Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Soup's On!

We had a fun get together the other night and had soup, breadsticks and a whole host of appetizers to please any palate. Matt got this great crockpot soup recipe from his sister, and we've been savoring the leftovers. It's even liked by 4-year-old's, who seem to be picky about something new everyday.

Chicken Clam Chowder
1 lbs. bacon - diced
1/2 lbs. ham - diced
2 c. chopped onions
2 c. diced celery
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
2 c. diced potatoes
2 c. cooked, diced chicken
4 c. chicken broth
2 cans minced clams w/ juice
1 can corn w/ liquid
3/4 c. flour
4 c. milk
4 c. shredded cheddar or jack cheese
1/2 c. whipping cream
2 T. parsley

Cook bacon, dice it and return it to pan (with some of the bacon grease still in the pan). Saute bacon with ham, onion and celery. Add salt and pepper. Combine with potatoes, chicken, broth, clams and corn in slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours (or high for 3-4). Whisk flour into milk. Stir in with remaining ingredients and cook for one more hour on high.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Resolutions anyone?

I love New Year's Resolutions. I wrote mine down this afternoon and feel pretty pumped about them. They're soon to be posted in a spot in my room so I'll see them everyday. I LOVE it!!! I'll just share one of them ... Review resolutions each Fast Sunday so I'll keep on top of them better:).

I love the prospect of organizing, re-committing, and a FRESH START! Oh how I need it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Gratitude

It is common for this time of year to bring feelings of gratitude for family, friends, and faith, but for some reason this particular year I'm feeling it very poignantly.

I think it really started with Thanksgiving and the joy and fun we had. We live far from family and so our little family and our friends end up being a big part of our celebrations. As we were finishing out the day (Thanksgiving), Matt and I reflected on our blessings and how we are experiences so many different things - wonderful things - because of the fact that we are many, many miles from family.

Well it's happened again at Christmas, and I'm basically brim to overflowing. So let me share a little bit.

First of all, our Christmas was wonderful. Our children loved what Santa and their grandparents gave them. In fact it merited a trip to the big box store to stock up on storage bins so all the little pieces of toys will have homes, and so we can control what is out and being played with, rather than have them all over the floor, in S*'s mouth, and waiting to be sucked up by the vacuum.

We've also been partying like its 1999 ... which is frankly out of character for both Matt and me. But we've loved it. We had a party with friends and the missionaries on Christmas Eve, including a Nativity play by "four children and one cute baby". We had some friends over for a great Christmas night meal. And tonight we just cleaned up from another friends' party. It's been a great season.

As I was washing dishes, I thought that the one common thread in all of this is the Church. We have loved our time here (location shall remain nameless), and most of our great friends are from our ward. I think that's pretty common when far from family .... your ward family really does become your family.

We have a friend who did an essay about her membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (I wish I had a link here but will get one soon) on the local NPR radio station and it was so right on, as far as being a member of the church is a way of life and not just a Sunday thing. So this is a prime example ... anyway, we're just so blessed.

We miss being with family, but we're grateful for phone calls and other technology that makes it so the distance doesn't seem all that far. We couldn't have asked for a better Christmas season. We hope yours was the same.

(Camera is broken ... will be posting w/o pictures until the situation is remedied)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Shhhh!


I'm convinced my husband will know every gift I give him for Christmas this year. The reason being ... some little lady in our house can't contain her excitement and knowledge of said gifts. For example: He comes home from work today and here's the scenerio ...

Dad: Hey everybody.
(cheers and galloping to him)

Daughter: Daddy, Daddy, we have a surprise for you. It's a ___(enter gift here)___!

Me: Argghhh!

Dad: I didn't hear what she said.

(yeah, right)

Daughter (mumbling to herself because she knows she wasn't supposed to say anything): I didn't say anything ... I just said we got him a surprise. A ___(gift), and a ____(gift). I didn't say anything Mommy.

Me (blue faced and making pulling-my-hair-out motions): I give up, I GIVE UP!!!


After calming down I realize it's my fault. I should either A) shop by myself, or B) not make a big announcement like "now this is a gift for Dad, don't tell him, it's a surprise". I'm really good at setting myself up.

Monday, November 30, 2009

New Tradition

I love having a young family and creating new traditions that are 'ours'; something we didn't necessarily get from my side or M*'s.

I think W*, K*, S* and I started a new one today.

Last year I saw this idea in a magazine, and found this link this year. So after promising to do it for over a week, we finally did it today.

It was great fun and ooooohhhh the smell is wonderful. The only change we'll make is have it be an All Saints' Day activity since it takes up to 6 weeks to fully create. That way we'll be able to display it from our mantle or Christmas tree and bask in the aroma.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Birthdays & Holidays

There's a lot of partying going on at our house these days. Between holidays and birthdays, the autumn/winter is a fun time for us.

It's hard to believe W* & K* are 4! After opening presents the three of them set up a tea party, even inviting the dinosaurs. My parents got them stools, so the stage was set!


When the birthday cake topic came up I suggested we just have one cake since two would make us sick. So now, how to decorate it? W* wanted a dinosaur cake and K* wanted a rainbow cake. So we split up the white cake mix into four bowls and colored them blue, red, yellow and green, then put them in the cake pan. K* was thrilled. Then I came to the computer to look for an easy dinosaur picture I could attempt to copy. Instead I found this (follow this link to watch the video).
It was perfect and so easy. Of course you make accommodations for what you don't have and even with that, ours turned out pretty close to theirs. After some duckpin bowling, the twins felt their birthday was the best ever.

**Meanwhile ... an update on Thanksgiving**
Our Thanksgiving was so fun. Living far from family makes holidays a little different, but thanks to friends, we always have fun. We got up and went to some friends' house for breakfast. It's a family tradition for them and fun to experience ourselves. We then headed over to the Elder's Quorum Turkey Bowl. It was so fun. We got home, prepared the last of our dinner and then had a terrific feast. After some phone calls to family we felt the tryptophan kick in. What a wonderful holiday. We are so blessed.
Now let the Christmas holidays begin!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Libraries and Accessories

Every Sunday night I do a little week prep. I'll write down what my plans are, meals, to-do's, etc. Don't worry, it's not as organized as it sounds, but it's one of those residual habits from my mission.

One of these activities includes making a list of library books we'll check out for the week to coincide with our preschool theme for the week. Monday's are our library days and I absolutely love our local library. I don't think I ever appreciated the library like I do now that I have children. I have a suggested book list from a preschool website I follow and usually our library has a good number of the suggestions. But also what I love is the library passes (although we're banned from that for 73 more days:(, but that's another story), audio books, storytimes, activities, play area. I love that you can place a book on hold; that you can request a book from another library and they'll notify my account and email me when it's ready for pick-up. I mean, what else can you ask for? (sorry Dad, for ending in a preposition). Wasn't Benjamin Franklin's idea of a public lending library marvelous!

*******

On another topic ... Sophie's starting to accessorize. It's actually pretty funny. Her latest addition to her daily outfit is a freezer storage container I keep with the tupperware. She comes up to me and says 'hat'. It fits perfectly on her 97th percentile head.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Word Girl

At our house we're big fans of PBS. The problem sometimes is that there are so many great shows, with only a small allotted TV-time schedule. So we pick and choose accordingly. Also since our children are so small I just write off some of the shows. One of those written off is 'Word Girl'. As a disclaimer, the show is probably very educational, but something I'm not interested in for them now.

Anyhow ... some day, some way, Wes and Kate caught a few minutes of it and now Wes is obsessed. Everyday he insists I put a red dishtowel around his neck so he can be 'Word Girl'. So I said, "Wes, you're a boy, so why don't we call you Word Boy." But he wasn't having any of it. He grabs his horse, puts on his $1 Elmo backpack from Aunt Karen, and runs around the house declaring his super-heroism.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Primary Program

We knew it would be an interesting day and wondered if Wes and Kate would remember their parts. As it turned out, we were not disappointed.

Today was the Primary Program for our ward. We've been practicing our speaking parts for a few weeks and pretty much got them down pat. Wes was seated on one side of the stage with his teacher, and Kate on the other side with her teacher. Matt leaned over and said, "should we be concerned that our children have to sit by their teachers?"

The program was wonderful. We have the best music people and teachers ever. Wes and Kate did really well with their parts and sang really well. Wes was a little angel. He was reverent and attentive and just a handsome little guy. Kate meanwhile matched, if not bested, her Father's Day performance, meaning she effectively sang louder than all of the Primary. Now we've just got to get it so she can sing on tune all of the time and with a little more reverence. It was great though. Definitely one of those moments when you're bursting at the seams as a parent. What a joy it is to see your children up on the stage singing and interacting with other children! And to top it off, they're learning eternal principles.

Meanwhile in the audience Sophie tried to make a run for the stage a couple times and danced along to the music and kept trying to turn off the lights (maybe we should sit in a different bench). Oh boy, here we go. Looks like we've got another outgoing/non-shy daughter on our hands:), or maybe just a busy toddler.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I shouldn't put it off any longer even though I'm yawning up a storm ... I'll make it quick.

Halloween was fun and busy. With soon-to-be-4-year olds, this is a fantastic holiday. We attended our ward's trunk or treat, went to a Halloween party playgroup, and had a fun night of going house to house in our neighborhood, or at least Matt did, I had candy-handing-out duty.

Here are Glinda, Dorothy, and the Tinman.


We also had fun with pumpkins and caramel apples.
Welcome November! We're glad you're here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Musings

**This journal post is a collage of recent events and musings, and is quite long**

My parents recently visited us. It's always so nice when family comes. I've also come to appreciate the cleanliness of my mother in new ways. The day after she and my dad left I thought, "how did my house stay so clean while they were here, but is practically a disaster today." Of course I realized it's because my mom is always picking up, washing off and straightening up everything along side me. I mentioned this to Matt and he took it as me saying he doesn't do enough to help. But that's not it - it's more like, she's been a young mother and knows that there are constantly things to pick up and do. So thank you Mom, for working while you were supposed to be on vacation.

We rented a van and took many-a-trip around our area. One was the Joseph Smith Birthplace Visitor Center in Vermont. One of the many things we saw along the way were the beautiful colors. And we discovered that yet again, the reason for the beauty here is the quantity of the trees. It was really, really cold, but beautiful.
On the way home we took our annual stop at the Vermont Country Store. What a great store. We also had time to stop at Yankee Candle Village, a really cool store/campus. It closes at 6 p.m. so we only browsed for 15 minutes and knew that a return trip would be necessary.

It turned out to be a long day of travel, but well worth it. The next day we went back to Yankee, and combined it with a stop at a local auctioneer house, since we're in desperate need of a dining table. Our current one no longer has its original chairs and we use folding chairs to fill in the need. We met a friend of ours, who's an auction house pro, and she showed us the ropes. We didn't end up staying for the auction, since there was only one table going that night, and it wasn't quite what I wanted. She assured me that something I did like would come along. The table I really like is just not practical right now. So on goes the hunt!

On Saturday we went apple and pumpkin picking at an orchard and wowed my parents with its beauty. The apples are HUGE this year.
We also saw the coast, historical houses and Matt's campus. It was a lot of fun. The only sad part was my dad got sick a few days into the trip and was down and out for 3-4 days. He was a trooper though.

After my parents left we settled into our normal routine of life. We opened, prematurely, Aunt Amber's Halloween Treat Bags. She's one of the most thoughtful people I know. Here's Sophie and Kate with the hairbows from the bags.

*****

We've also discovered in the last 10 days that we've never had a 'climber' in our family ... until now. This is a frequent scene I'm greeted with when I enter a room looking for Sophie.
Completely proud of herself and her new-found abilities. Problem is, she can't get down, or at least doesn't dare. So needless to say, our computer monitor has pen all over it because I didn't fold the chair and put it away so she couldn't climb. And my recording equipment's settings have all been changed. If you look closely in the picture above too, you'll see Sophie's taken to peeling wallpaper up the walls. I explained to our landlord that peeling wallpaper is an absolute magnet for toddlers and he agreed. So a new project is coming our way.

*****

I returned from the store the other day feeling overwhelmed with all that needs to get done between now and Christmas. Then I realized that when that feeling comes, I've got too much going on and I need to simplify and not start too many projects (i.e. we've been married a decade and I still don't have a Christmas stocking for me, and I don't like Matt's now, so I decided to redo all of them.). Oh well, that's typically female, I guess. I look at all my friend's blogs and think, "how do they get it all done and remain sane?". Of course I'm not naive enough to think you all don't have challenges, and that the purpose of many blogs is to communicate milestones and computer-scrapbooking type things ... that's certainly what mine mainly is. But I have to share that I'm pretty excited about some of the Christmas projects I have going on, even if they're causing a bit of anxiety.

The main one is a dollhouse I found at Goodwill for Kate. Here's the background.

I was dropping off some clothes and items at their drive thru the other day and thought of my friend Marni, who is a Goodwill deal finder. So I thought, "I'll go inside to see what they have." On the way in, on the sidewalk, was a dollhouse (pictured below). The price tag said $5.99. I know it looks pretty roughly hewn and was probably a labor of love from some father years ago, but I see so many possibilities that I can't help but be excited. There was also a practically new barn I bought for Wes for $2.99. I've hidden them in our wine cellar - and I'm pretty sure that's exactly what it is, since there appears to be some sort of distillery equipment/barrels in the room (our landlord is from Italy and this was his mother's home). Wes, Kate, and Sophie don't dare enter the room because it is always dark and 'makes noises' (our dehumidier is in there). So it's a perfect hiding place. I've been hunting for wooden shingles and furniture - not an easy task, unless you want to spend $30 on a miniature chair and bedset. But last night I hit the jackpot and found exactly what I was looking for. It's puzzle furniture that you put together. Sounds kind of complicated but really isn't. So in went my order and I'm so excited to get it here. Maybe I can enlist Matt in that project:).
Well I think that about does it for a journal entry now. We're healthy and happy and are basking in the colors of New England.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

13 month project


I'm happy to post a project I finally finished. Last year I saw a great Halloween Advent Calendar on a cousin-in-law's blog and thought, "Oh what a fun idea", so before she posted the directions on how to make it, I plunged my energies into finding one on the internet. I found a really cute one from Pottery Barn that was re-created by someone. So I got all my supplies and got started.

Needless to say, it turned out to be a monster of a project, not necessarily hard, but time consuming (the decorative stitches around each pocket). But now it's finished!

So thanks Michelle, for the idea (last year;))!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

New England Travel

We just got back from a fun first-half of the weekend traveling and site seeing.

Yesterday Matt came home early and we packed up the car to go on a short get-away. Our first stop was Salem, which is the perfect place to visit in October, but not really the best for young children since there are ghosts and ghouls in every shop window, and not the friendly kind. We kept saying it would be a really fun trip when everyone's older, or a trip for two (when we're 59:)). It kind of felt like Diagon Alley, but for some reason I picture that as more cool, rather than evil and creepy. We saw the Witch House which is the last standing building with direct ties to the Salem Witch Trials.
We continued north through New Hampshire and into Southern Maine. We stayed in Scarborough at a hotel and have finally realized that this is always the best part of the trip for our little ones. They could stay in the hotel jumping from bed to bed, swimming in the pool, and eating the continental breakfasts, all weekend long. The most common question during the whole trip, and even when we got into our drive way was, "When are we going back to the hotel?"

This morning when we woke up it was raining. We knew that it was forecasted to be a rainy weekend, but we also knew that our Saturday ventures will come to a stop soon since Kate's taking swimming lessons on those days. So we figured it was now, or next Spring, but we have many other places we want to go, so we stuck with a rainy trip. It turned out to be beautiful (even in the rain), and a trip we'll remember.

Our first stop was Len Libby's Chocolates, and the life size moose, made of chocolate. It was a hit! Everyone loved the moose, and the sweet treats we bought (and subsequently ate for a morning snack).

We then went to the Portland Head Light, a beautiful lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth. By this time it was pouring. There were probably 30 people crammed into the tiny 20'x15' gift shop. And to think, someone was having a wedding that day there. But it was so beautiful. We stood watching the waves and hearing the fog horn blow for a while and then ran back to the car and stripped our coats off, wrapped blankets around the kids and turned on the heater.
We made our way to some shopping areas and a fun town called Freeport, that kind of had a Park City, Utah/Steamboat Springs, CO feel to it. Freeport is home to L.L. Bean and seems to have the zoning laws where all the businesses have to look like they're homes or lodges - it looked really cool.

We stopped and had a famous Lobster Roll and the kids had pizza. It really turned out to be a fun, low-key, site-seeing adventure. So despite the rain, we call it a success. (too bad the camera sat on our shelf at home ... I took pictures with my cell phone but have no idea how to transfer them).

All in all we thought Maine was beautiful and a place where we'd definitely live, should the opportunity arise (for those of you who know Matt, know that's saying something). And as we've said about everything in the East, it's the trees that make the difference, especially in Autumn.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Re-living childhood

I just love re-living my childhood through my own children. Here's a perfect example tonight. Wes was in the bathtub, nose just millimeters away from the faucet, sticking out his tongue at his own reflection. Don't you remember doing that exact same thing? I do. Suddenly I time-warped back 30 years to my first discovery of how that was really cool.

It rained today, and although we're used to it by now, we still don't have the proper rain gear for our children. But we played in it anyway. We went on our almost-daily bike ride/walk (W & K on big wheels, S in the stroller with me jogging to keep up with the hoodiloos), around the corner and down the street to a public basketball court. The court's surface is wavy/hilly, I'm not exactly sure why, other than it rains a ton here and I'm sure surfaces can only take so much over the years; but the small hilliness of it is why we frequent it after a rainfall. Puddles gather and our little adventurers love it. They make tire tracks with their bikes and Sophie ends up washing her face in it, every time. We took some sidewalk chalk along with us and had a grand time.
While there I kept thinking, "wow, they're really getting wet", but then again I thought, "I remember wading through puddles with my canvas shoes and feeling my socks soak up water like a sponge." So I hope they're making memories that they'll look back on too, no matter how ordinary they may be. Plus there's nothing like a warm bath after fun in the puddles.

I've also come to the conclusion that for the first few years of our children's lives, they're going to be the same thing for Halloween for two years in a row. I don't think they'll mind these first few years, maybe by the time they're 8 they'll say, "heyyyy, wait a minute ... I was this last year." Wes and Kate were the same thing last year as the year before, but that was because I didn't get on the stick early enough, using our move as an excuse. And it will work again this year because we'll be in a new place next year.

So I went to get the first of the material tonight. Sophie will be Dorothy; Kate, Glinda (she wants to be a princess, so we're using this as the princess option); Wes, the tinman; Matt, the scarecrow; Me, the wicked witch - although I think I'll bypass the green makeup. Doesn't every mom have to be a witch for Halloween at some point? I think it's an unwritten rule.

I figure I'll get started on the costumes and if I find they're beyond my sewing capabilities I'll be saved by my mother, who's coming to visit in October (surprise Mom! You didn't know 'sewing' might be on the agenda:)) No, actually Kate's is all done, minus some sort of sweater or shawl, for the weather. We got a great hand-me-down pink dress that she absolutely loves and it's a perfect princess costume. Add a crown and I think we're in business. For Matt's scarecrow costume I have an African Traditional outfit from my mission that is about 5 sizes too big and very manly looking. So I figure just add a little straw or raffia out the sleeves and make him a floppy felt hat (he's so going to love this;)). And I don't think a witches costume for me needs to be complex. So it's Sophie and Wes' costumes that I need to get going on. But I'm so excited.
So here's to childhood! Once for our own, and once for our children's, who gratefully, allow us to experience ours again with them. (commas were never my forte, sorry about the misuse of them ... I keep saying I'm going to email my HS English teacher for a refresher course, or maybe just google the proper usage;))

Monday, September 7, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009

Little Miss Independent

Sophie has become very vocal lately. I guess she's trying to tell me that she's her own person and wants to be her on her own a little more and more. It's happened over the last couple of weeks and I thought I needed to document it since I haven't done as good a job keeping track of her milestones.

I can't remember when Wes and Kate decided to feed themselves, but Sophie is officially on her own now. She's eaten finger food for a while, but that isn't good enough for her now. She kept grabbing my utensils from off the table and using them, so I thought, "Oh yeah, I probably should let her feed herself now". Do other mom's do that? I hope I haven't stunted her development because I haven't thought to introduce regular things into her life. Although, she's getting very proficient with a toothbrush;).

So our little Sophie isn't so little anymore and it makes me a little sad. It's really amazing how quickly a child develops; and since it's right before our eyes, sometimes we don't realize it how fast it is.

Thankful


I mentioned a couple days ago we did the 'clothes change-out'. Meaning, our cooler weather has prompted me to pull out the fall clothes for the next age up (what do you know, it was in the 80s today:)).

I LOVE doing this, and every time I do, I almost get teary-eyed and my heart swells with gratitude. We have been so blessed by family and friends who share their clothes. I feel like I walk downstairs into a department store. We truly have been blessed by the generosity of others. We've literally saved hundreds and I'm sure even reaching thousands of dinero now with all the clothes. We even came back with an extra bag from Utah, since we had space for another carry-on, that was stuffed with 5 year old stuff for Kate for the future.

I'm the youngest and pretty much the last to have children on my side of the family so we've been the beneficiary of clothing from my sister and sister-in-law; Matt's sisters have been generous with their hand-me-downs; I had a friend at my Logan radio statio who had a boy who's one year older than Wes, and so he was loaded up with his clothes that were practically new; We have friends in Logan with a boy 3 years older than Wes and so we got his clothes for 18 months-2years age. And here, we have a friend who just brought clothes over from another friend for Kate up to age 7.

I haven't had to buy more than a couple dozen items per child since birth (socks, underwear, shirts, shorts, pants, swimsuits, pj's ... EVERYTHING!) and I'm truly thankful.

Inevitably, when we break out the new containers of clothing, a dress-up party ensues. So Kate spotted some 6T snowpants that she tried to convince me were 'just my size, Mom!'. Wes then pulled out his winter gear and sported a new vest from the boy container. Sophie's just along for the ride and loving all the action.

So thank you, and boy, my kids sure look cute!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Summer's Gone?!

It has been forever since we've posted and everyday that goes by I find it harder to start again. But I'll mention a few short things here before getting serious again.

We've had a great summer and can hardly believe it's over. It's been so comfortable, weather-wise, lately, that we did the whole 'change out the summer clothes for the autumn ones' routine today (I've got some funny pics about that, that I'll share another time maybe).

We spent four weeks in Utah and enjoyed time with family and friends. And it's amazing that even with all that time we managed to not get our paths crossed with all of our friends. But that seems to be how traveling goes.

Here's a sampling of what we did:
1-Lamb Day softball tournament
2-Lamb Day fun run
3-Lamb Day parade ... basically everything Lamb Day-oriented. (I'll make no links here, for time's sake. If you're really that interested then do a quick Lamb day google to see what I'm talking about.)
4-Family reunion.
5-Family reunion (a different one and just as fun!)
6-Fruit picking and juicing.
7-Hot tubbing
8-Went to Logan (twice)
9-Flaming Gorge - ran the river.
10-Visited KMTI Radio four times.
11-Picked up sweetheart turkey roasts and pot roasts at the Moroni Feed Turkey Plant that we smuggled in our suitcases - still rock hard when we got home:).
12-Enjoyed Matt's sister's wedding and all the festivities that came with it. Welcome to the family Kyle!
13-Played with Grandma's/Grandpa's/Cousins constantly and just had a great time. We couldn't have done it without the help of family and friends for the car seats used, car borrowed for a month, food eaten, beds slept in, and hosting given. Most sincere thanks.

Four weeks is long for anywhere while living out of a suitcase, but we loved it (although 3 weeks was the consensus for future trips, when we later discussed it).

We are happy to be home and back in the groove of life.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Is this really 'middle age?'

I look at the calendar and think to myself ... 'I don't feel a day over 27', yet sadly, those days are long gone. I normally wouldn't post something on my own birthday, but since Matt and the kiddos put together such a production, I think I should share.

Matt came home from work a little early today, handed me the car keys, and said, "Dinner will be ready at 6:00". I was so excited! So I hopped in the car and headed for the library.

After getting what I wanted I went to JoAnn's, another of my favorite retreats, just to look at some future possible projects. I then swung by the store for some milk, bread and eggs and pulled in promptly at 5:59 p.m.

Earlier Matt had asked what I wanted for dinner and I requested Papa Murphy's Take 'N Bake Chicken Garlic Pizza (something we dreadfully miss), but since there aren't any P.M.'s here, I asked him to just make pizza. So when I walked in and saw a chicken garlic pizza I was so pleasantly surprised. He said the recipe is secret (I'll get it out of him sooner or later), and assured me he made it himself. He'd made a great spinach salad and then we had an ice cream cake. I promise I'll get back to portion-control tomorrow:).

Then Wes and Kate paraded in with gifts: the Mormon version of Pride & Prejudice, some rabbit ears (we nixed our cable last year and decided to reinstate the rabbit ears and converter box), some Tic-tacs and Carmex. Boy does he know what I like, or does he know what I like! I was elated.

We then finished off the evening watching Forever Strong, a Father's Day gift to Matt from my parents. Wow, if you haven't seen this movie - it's a great one.

What a great day, interspersed with phone calls, video wishes via blogs, emails, cards .. it was just great! Thank you.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Night the Lights Went Out

I've often commented on the bounty of trees in the North East. And now we're experiencing the other side of what can happen with this bounty.

Yesterday afternoon Wes, Kate, Sophia and I were out enjoying an afternoon in our kiddie pool. We'd been out there a while and so I said it was time to go inside and dry up. As I was gathering our things to take inside (since it seems to rain at least once/day here, we've gotten in the habit of never leaving toys/clothes outside), I looked into the Northwestern sky and saw dark, dark skies moving pretty rapidly in our direction. Not more than 5 minutes of being inside the house a storm tore through our area/city. It was the first time I was scared about a storm since I've had children.

The lightning and thunder were not far apart from each other and the wind and rain were pretty ferocious. We stood at the window in awe watching our sidewalk turn into a small river and leaves and debris whip around the skies.

I turned on the radio and heard them give a severe weather report. Our power went out at about 4:45 p.m. Matt came in around 5:30 with all sorts of stories from his drive home ... traffic lights out, large branches down, power lines down and water everywhere. Since his study has been upper-atmospheric thunderstorms he gets excited about these things.

I told him he'd have to take over dinner, since non-conventional cooking is his expertise. So I gave him the thawed hamburger, spaghetti noodles, sauce and almost-finished-rising-french bread, and said, "do your magic". Oh he was so in his element. To those who don't know, he loves dutch oven cooking and anything that makes you have to improvise.

Needless to say our spahgetti dinner with french bread by candlelight was delicious. He fried up the hamburger and did the sauce and noodles on our outdoor gas camp stove and baked the bread in a dutch oven (having to mold it into a 'U' to make it fit).
The power still wasn't on when we went to bed but when I got up at 1 a.m., it was back on.

This morning when I went for a jog there's a certain route I usually take and as I got further along it I heard the hums of generators and then came upon a still not-working traffic light. There were whole trees with exposed roots all over yards and branch, leaves, and just a big mess everywhere.

Later in the day we took a run to the store and I missed the exit on the way back and had to come through the old part of our town. WOW! Destruction was literally everywhere. From the looks of it, our neighborhood was saved the fury of this storm. It appears the middle section of our town is still without power tonight, and as we weaved in and out and around closed streets and police-taped areas with lines down to make our way home, we were so grateful for our safety.
Limbs and branches line the street after being hauled there for what, I assume, the city will start to pick up in the coming days.

Here's Connecticut's Governor, Jodi Rell, speaking with Connecticut Natural Gas workers.

The headline in the paper says that the National Weather service is confirming that it was a tornado that hit. It looks like it's going to be a while for everything to get back to normal in some parts of town. (Storm photos are from Courant.com)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Steve Songs


We just got back from a fun concert with Steve Songs. Those of you with young children who love PBS will appreciate who he is. We were surprised to find out that he lives in our very own city and gives a concert for the library every year. What are the chances of that? All along we've been neighbors (well not actual neighbors) to a celebrity!

It was the kick-off of our local library's summer reading program for children. The concert was a complimentary celebration that Wes and Kate have been looking forward to all month.

Thankfully the skies dried up today so it could be held outside and we enjoyed it with a couple hundred other young families with children bouncing up and down and singing to this one-man-guitar act. He really does such a great job and we loved it.

We left a few minutes early because Sophia was not enjoying it as much as the others. Kate was kind of disappointed because she'd been practicing a certain song that Steve sings about soccer and she wanted to go up after the concert and sing it to him. I'm sure it would've been really cute, but she was okay with it because we told her we were going to go for ice cream instead:). Wes meanwhile, was just all about the guitar. He kept saying, 'there's the guitar! there's the guitar!' What a fun night.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Waterlogged

An article in our local newspaper last week said it had rained 26 of the last 46 days. And according to my records it's rained at least once a day since then, so the standing water in our front lawn just keeps getting deeper.

I found another side effect of this when I went downstairs to do laundry today. Our cement floors are being penetrated by the ground water levels, so there are spots that are quite damp. I think this is why many New England basements aren't finished. So I'm trying to figure out how to move boxes in certain areas that aren't affected ... yet. But boy, it's sure beautiful outside - sometimes I feel like we live in the tropics.

I understand much of Utah has seen an unsually rainy few months as well.

***As a side note, Matt reads and sings to our children at bedtime and as I was passing their bedroom this is what I heard ...

Matt: "What do you want to sing now?"
Wes: "Frosty"
Matt: "We already sang Frosty."
Kate: "Mamma Mia"
Matt: "Okay."

Then Kate sings the first line to ABBA's Mamma Mia.

So I guess Matt's playlist expands a little farther out than my 'Wheels on the Bus' or 'Jesus Wants Me for A Sunbeam'. Should I be concerned? ;)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Strawberry Jam and Dress-up

Strawberries in our neck of the woods are so inexpensive this week that we decided to take advantage of it by bottling a few. Strawberry Jam is my favorite and unfortunately means it doesn't stick around very long, so I think I'll be off to the store again tomorrow to get some more. Now if only I had some homemade bread, store-bought just doesn't hit the spot sometimes ... but that project will have to wait for another day because of the state of my house/mind.
We also finally went through some clothes that a friend of a friend gave to us for Kate. They're 6-8 year old clothes which of course is a ways off but we sorted them and found a really pretty dress for Kate that we've decided to use as a dress up piece. She's pretty excited about it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

We have such great Father's in our lives ... we love them all!
Here's Daddy and his three little bundles of joy/craziness.


My Dad, Sophie and Kate
I don't have a picture of Papa on my current files, so I snagged this from Aunt Bonnie's blog (unfortunately it doesn't show his handsome face:().
Happy Father's Day to you all!

Friday, June 19, 2009

I have a friend who posts something almost everyday and I love to check her blog, even when it's just pretty normal stuff. I'm not sure I'll be able to follow suit, mainly because I read everyone else's posts and then am too tired to add mine, but here are some fun things we've done lately.

*Wesley finished his school year (Mar-June) of speech therapy. He absolutely loved it. I think part of it is the fact that he went alone, w/o Kate, and I'm sure sometimes as a twin you'd like something that's just yours. And that's exactly what's happened ... he's very possessive of 'Ms. D'Amato' and includes her in his daily prayers. He gave her some roses from our yard for their last lesson, I should've taken a picture it was so cute.


*Sophia's loving ice cream cones right now. I bought some cones the other day and she loves that this is a food I let her hold herself, just don't forget the bib like I did here!


*Kate has really matured the last couple months. Although a 3 year old can't totally be reasoned with, I'm able to explain things to her and tell her directions/consequences/etc., and she's fairly ready to accept them. She's such a great helper and loves anybody and everybody. She's still very determined, strong-willed, and bounces off walls when anyone comes to visit, but Matt and I are amazed at how she's growing up so much!


*Matt's been working hard while not officially 'working'. He doesn't have classes this summer but is keeping busy writing a paper and getting everything wrapped up at USU . He's also been a faithful attendee at the school gym, which is always very healthy:). He's really excited for our long visit to the mountains of home. He says his only concern is the 'getting there part', since we've never flown with three small children before. But we've gotten lots of great advice from friends who have/and regularly do, fly.

*We went to another baseball game at our local AA NBL affiliate. Since the Red Socks games are either impossible or way expensive to get tickets I've been looking at the $5 Yankee tickets or perhaps looking for a Mets game ... eventhough going south requires a lot more planning because of the mass of humanity that is New York City.

*I set a goal this spring to run in two 5K road races this summer and last night was the first. I had butterflies that whole day (it was a night race). This is the first run I've done in 11 years. I've been training for the last two months and haven't really enjoyed it, but setting a goal of running in two races has forced me to exercise consistently. The run was beautiful even though it rained the whole time. I wasn't the last runner. Close ... but not last. And I'm happy that I came in under my predicted time of 38:55 (32:45 actual). Thanks to Matt and the little ones for playing in the rain while waiting for me! (I was running so fast that Matt couldn't get a good picture:)).

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day


What a fun weekend we've had, and it seems like it should last one more day. Usually Memorial Day is a big day for my side of the family with decorating graves in Cache Valley for both sets of my grandparents. But since we're not there right now we celebrated the beginning of summer with good friends.

No pictures, so just imagine ...

We started off at our church friend's house for a BYOM cookout. Our ward's picnic was canceled/postponed and so some of our social butterfly friends didn't let that stop them and organized a mini ward picnic. It was so fun and all of the little ones loved playing and running in the sun.

Then we headed off to some of our work colleague/ friends' house for another bbq. They had just gotten a new 'playscape' (Eastern-ese for playground) and wanted all of our group of friend's children to break it in. They had a blast and we ate more great food and relaxed for another hour or two.

Needless to say ... not more than 30-45 seconds in the car and Sophie was practically snoring, she was so wiped out. Another minute or two and Kate was out. Wes tried valiantly to stay awake but soon succumed to the vigors of the day.

What a great day. Thanks to those ancestors and patriots who preceeded us in this great nation to make days like these possible.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

3 hours alone

I was given a great gift by Matt this week, 3 hours to do whatever I wanted. Don't get me wrong ... he does his share of being a parent, but this was his idea for me to have 3 hours of whatever. It was heavenly! I came home refreshed and blabbering about all the great things I got to do and got done.

I first went to the library, picked out a desk , then skimmed through a couple of magazines I've wanted to look at. I read some from a parenting book and then gathered my things and hit the road.

The next couple of hours were spent running errands. It's amazing how much you can get done without anyone else with you. I won't go into details about everything ... okay maybe just one. I'm a big coupon-er, and with pharmacies and lots of choices of stores along the turnpike where we live, I'm never in need of finding a deal (if we need it, of course:)).

This purchase cost me $14.98 and I just received confirmation that I will receive a $17.48 rebate check for it. So I got these items for free + $3. I know this is a waste of time for some people, but if I find a deal that's worth it, it's a fun hobby for me.

I love my little Wesley, Kate and Sophia. And I love them even more when I come home refreshed from a 'mommy-only trip'.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Swimming Weather

We did a little exploring today and it turned out to be fun field trip. Too bad I didn't take the camera.

We ... Wes, Kate, Sophie and I ... decided to head south after dropping Matt off at school. We ended up in the 'official center'of the state, appropriately called Middletown. There was a state park there that we stopped at and enjoyed playing in the water and feeling the warm rays of the sun. The only way I got the kids to get back in the car was a promise to break out the swimming pool.

So here we are in our backyard, enjoying the 80 degree weather today. Fun times.


In the back of this picture you can see our meager offering of a garden ... peas and carrots planted in an 8" strip against our screened in porch. Matt's taken out some old remnants of bushes along our back fence in hopes of finding success with tomatoes and onions. And then as I was making dinner tonight reality struck as I used the second to last quart of green beans for our Shepherd's Pie, not to mention no more spaghetti sauce jars (although there are about 15 store bought cans). Oh how I miss a real garden! But at least we have 50+ pints of beets ;). As of a couple weeks ago there was still one more plot left at the community garden in our town ... the plot that doesn't grow anything (according to parks and rec lady). Maybe we'll have to give them a call anyway and try to grow something!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Philadelphia PA

I've been meaning to post some of these pictures for over a month now but haven't done it. For Spring Break we went to Philadelphia and had so much fun! We were able to see quite a bit of history without the children being too out of control. We wanted to watch National Treasure before we went, but ended up watching it after and saying, "Oh, we were there, and there and there." It was so much fun.

The weather cooperated fairly well. It was a bit brisk, but at least not rainy and totally cold. Some of the sites we saw were the Liberty Bell,

Independence Hall,

the Philadelphia Children's Museum (where we learned that Kate is terrified of life size dinosaur models:)).

We also saw the Constitution Museum,

had lunch in the park,

saw the U.S. Mint,

the Betsy Ross House,

Elfreth's Alley (America's Oldest Residential Neighborhood),

and the Rocky statue. I was driving and going around and around a round-a-bout, while Matt was trying to get a picture of the statue. It's total luck that he got this picture!

It's definitely a place we'd like to visit again.