Sunday, September 8, 2013

Quick Update

The past few weeks have been pretty busy.  I've canned peaches and tomatoes, started new sewing projects, we replaced windows so I painted the new sashings, I'm working on restoring a wooden chest and getting ready to paint our family room.  In addition to that, Hannah started 2nd grade, Jonathan had a birthday and I took some of my class from church to see the historical sites in Kirtland, Ohio.  Hyrum went to California for work and took a couple of extra days to hike the highest point in Nevada with his brother.  The past month has been busy and full of good things as we tried to take in the last few days of summer.  Here are a few pictures to illustrate. 

My primary class outside the John Johnson Home in Hiram, Ohio.  This is one of my favorite Church History Sites in the Kirtland area. 

I'm peeling peaches for canning.  Hyrum was in-charge of the syrup and the pressure cooker. 

Hyrum in Yosemite. 

Hyrum at the top of Boundary Peak

Hannah's first day of school.

Happy Birthday, Jonathan.

Birthday, Brownie Ice Cream Sundaes.

Opening 5 presents for his magical birthday.

8 Years

Hyrum and I have been married for 8 years.  I think I can safely say that we love each other more now than we we did when we first got married.  We aren't perfect but we are learning how to work together and each day I think we get a little closer to that goal.  I am grateful for Hyrum and his patience with me and my faults.  He's a good man and I'm glad we get to walk this journey together and hopefully continue into eternity.

We're not real big on celebrations but we do try and go out occasionally.  This year I decided I really wanted to go out on a "real" date for our anniversary.   I had a church meeting on our actual anniversary so we decided to go out a few nights earlier.  I made dinner reservations and made plans.

We ended up riding the Duquene Incline.  It was fun.  The ride up and down is really short but we walked through the engine room which Hyrum really enjoyed.  He like seeing how things like that work.  One the neat things is that because of the way it's built it is quite automated even though there is no digital circuitry.  I often forget just how people use to do things.  I think our ancestors were smarter than we give them credit for.  Mechanics can do an awful lot even without a computer attached to it.

After our ride up we had dinner at the top of the hill at the Coal Hill Steakhouse.  We weren't very impressed by the food though the view of the city was nice from the balcony.  It was nice to have dinner together without begging someone to sit down or hurry and just eat.

It was a nice way to commemorate the beginning of our family, 8 years ago.  I'm looking forward to the future as we watch the kids grow and as Hyrum and I learn to work together even more and follow some of our dreams.  One of our family mottoes is "Adventure is Out There."  It truly is and I'm excited to find it with Hyrum by my side.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


If you know Hyrum, you know he's a nerd, in the best sense.  If you don't know him, well, take my word for it, he's a nerd.  He loves to share this nerdiness with our children and they just eat it up.  They love science and anything that make a loud noise as long as someone can explain it to them.  

The crew, watching and waiting.
A while back Hyrum bought a book called, "Snip, Burn, Solder and Shred: Seriously Geeky stuff to Make with your Kids".  They had pop bottle rockets as one of the projects and he decided this was a project to do.  We drank the soda, empty an oatmeal canister, begged a few wine corks, thanked the bike, who's tire recently went flat so we could salvage the valve and with a couple other purchases we had our pop bottle rocket parts.

Filling it with fuel (water).

 After Hyrum's week in Ireland and a 70 hour work week, he took the day off Monday and spent a couple hours assembling the rocket piece with the kids and then setting them off.  The kids next door joined the fun and for about an hour they tested different ways of filling the bottle to see just how much water was optimal for the highest farthest flight.  It was a fun sight.  They kids have used it everyday since and totally love it.

I love Jonathan's look of anticipation here.

Birthday Season is Upon Us

Hannah gets to kick off birthday season at our house.  This year she enjoyed her day.  It was her magical birthday so she got the same number of presents as the date of her birth.  She opened a few in the morning and then finished up in the evening. One of her presents was a denim skirt, recycled from a pair of Hyrum's old jeans.  It was so easy and I am so proud of it.  She's worn it everyday since her birthday and loves it.  She made my day.

We had friends over for a waffle lunch and then had tacos for her birthday dinner and cookie dough ice cream cake for dessert.  It was a low key day with just enough fun for her to enjoy it but for me not to be overwhelmed. 

We are so glad to have Hannah in our family.  She is a great big sister and a wonderful helper.  She is a great reader and learn quickly once she gets going.  Hannah is sweet and sensitive but tougher in more ways than I give her credit for.  I look forward with great anticipation of the woman she will become.  I am glad I have been blessed with an opportunity to raise this little angel. 

Northward ho . . .

After Hyrum's family left, he decided to leave and head to Ireland for work.  Since school's out we headed to my parents' house.  It was kind of nice to be there for more than two or three nights.  We got 8 whole days. 

Soon after we got there Jonathan tackled Spencer with pillows.  Whenever one fell on the floor Spencer flopped right on top of it.  He thought they were pretty comfy.
We worked in the gardening.  Everyday we picked blueberries and raspberries.  The blueberries were going crazy.  We would fill 1-2 2 quart bowls everyday.  It was crazy.  I almost wish I liked blueberries because there were so many.  We picked beans twice so my mom let me can those and bring them home.  We also picked up some local cucumbers and made pickles.  They are so good.  I canned apricot syrup as well.  I love the summer time here.  Fresh produce and a few crazy months of trying to get everything canned before the season is over. 

We canned 26 jars of pickles one day.  We smelled like garlic and vinegar the next.

We also got to play a little bit.  I visited a couple friends from my high school days.  One of them had just had twins, so precious.  Another was one of my best friends and a roommate in college.  It was fun to talk to her and spend a little more time getting to know her husband. 

Just a comfy spot to read a book.  Like I said, a true vacation.
We went to the beach and though it was a little cool for swimming, it was a beautiful day and the kids enjoyed the "sandbox" as Charlotte called it.  We go up to Grandma's house without getting ice cream cones and sweet corn.  It was wonderful.  The kids also made a new friend while we were there.  One of my mom's friends had a granddaughter visiting.  She and my kids enjoyed playing together.  They made quite the bunch. 

Charlotte loves the sand.

We relaxed, played, worked and just generally enjoyed taking a break and being with family.  It was a good vacation, a real vacation. 

The kids and their new friend.  They were covered with chalk.  I hope her parents still like me!

The kids make chalk paint.  They think it's hilarious.  I hate trying to get all the blue tint off their faces. 

Digging a tench.

Spencer just wandered.  He'd find a shovel and just sit right down and dig for a while.  He was happy just to be outside in the sand.

Filling buckets and splashing in the lake.

The view across the lake from the beach.  It was a really nice day.

The kids enjoyed their corn out by the fire pit.  They followed it down with some s'mores.

We had to have our girl's night.  Polka dots ruled this time.  Next time I want to try chevron stripes.

A Visit from the Out-of-towners

Spencer enjoyed his cake.
I know, totally goofy title, but it was the best I could do.  Hyrum's mom and sisters came to visit and two are currently from Texas and the other is living in Utah so everything else I could think of excluded someone.  We were so happy to have Grandma, Sarah and Rachel here.   They all enjoyed our castle suite, complete with mural.  They wrestled, played, read stories and generally entertained the kids for several days.  It was nice to have an extra set of hands to get Spencer of out drawers, out of the bathroom, and generally out of something he wasn't suppose to be in.  We missed them when they left.  Grandma though is quite tricky and this past week we had a treasure hunt with clues she left for us.  Hannah ran around looking for the little squares of paper.  They finally found a bag full of popcorn, and treats, a book, and, Jonathan's favorite, pickled beets. 

We had a birthday party for Sarah, Grandpa, Margaret, Hannah, Jonathan and Charlotte.  We wished all those people could have been with us but at least their names were on our cake.

Thanks, Grandma, Rachel and Sarah.

Rachel is really good to entertain the kids.  They love her.

We took them to the Carnegie Science Center.  The kids love it and they wanted to show Grandma and the girls.  this is Charlotte and Spencer on a space work simulation station.  Charlotte just liked the roly chair.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Change in Plans

This blog serves a couple of purposes.  One of those is to help chronicle what happens in our family.  I thought it fitting to post about a recent disappointment. 

For a while we have planned on enrolling Jonathan in kindergarten this year.  His birthday falls five days after the deadline so we figured we'd jump through a few hoops and in he'd go.   We read the literature provided by the district, registered him and awaited the necessary assessments.  He went through the final assessment a couple of weeks ago and then Wednesday we received "the letter".  I wasn't worried.  He is a beginning reader, takes in everything and is so willing to learn and loves discovery.  I thought for sure he'd make it.  I opened the letter after dinner and found out he has not met the criteria.  It seems we were jumping through the hoops with a blindfold on. 

Apparently, though I have to find the official policy on the district's website, to enroll in kindergarten or first grade early the proposed student must preform a grade level above that which they are trying to enter.  Now, I feel Jonathan is intelligent but I do not expect my almost five year to be a six year old, nor would I have tried to get him there.  I feel a little betrayed and upset over this whole situation.  Never in this entire process of registering and talking to administrators were we informed about policy #3110.  We could only find references to it in old school board minutes and details in a newspaper article.  There is no official school policy listed where I might easily find it. 

Had we known about this we would not have tried to enroll Jonathan.  Thankfully he's not too choked up about it.  He's ready to "play" for another year.  I think it's a shame though that five days makes a difference for a kids who is truly ready for school and others who need all sorts of support just because of their birthdays and an arbitrary deadline.  Hyrum reminds me not to get stuck on things I can't change so while I can't change this for Jonathan, I can change it for others.  We are working on making sure this policy becomes posted on the policy section of the district website and part of the kindergarten registration packet. 

All in all, I'm a little disappointed because I think we'll have the same boredom battle we have had over the past year and I think he is so ready.  I think it's a ridiculous policy but I am neither educator or psychologist so I'll do what I can so parents know the situation they are putting themselves and their children in.  I guess I just need to get a little more creative.

What do you do in the summertime?

The crew at dinner.

We play.  Hyrum's mom and sisters arrived at our house at 3 am Thursday morning.  We are really glad to have them with us.  We haven't seen Sarah and Rachel since last year and we can always see more of Grandma.  We wish Grandpa could be here too but we were glad his love for Scouting brought Lynnette, Rachel and Sarah to us.

We went to a theme park to splash in puddles.
We hung out Thursday so they could recuperate from their late night drive and then Friday we headed to Kennywood.  Kennywood is the local theme park.  Every year Google holds their summer picnic there for their employees and family.  It was great to have Grandma and Sarah and Rachel there because it meant we could buddy up on having fun and watching the kids.

Everyone had matching t-shirts--aside from the mustard yellow, they were pretty cool.
There was Kiddieland where riders had to be under 48-36".  It was perfect for Charlotte and great for Hannah and Jonathan too.  Hannah is just about to graduate from Kiddieland though as she gets taller every year.  The greatest thing though, in my opinion of course are the sprinklers attached to the trees.  They sprinkle toasty guests with a refreshing sprinkle.  The kids enjoyed splashing in the puddles at the Kiddieland location.

I was trying to get a picture of her chocolate covered face.  It didn't work so well.
We had a great time.  It was warm but manageable with the sprinklers.  Jonathan keeps asking when we can go back.  

What kids doesn't love a good puddle.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Seeing Spots?

Some of the kids had already shed their hides.

Yesterday a friend invited us to join them for Customer Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A.  We decided to join then and took our little herd to the restaurant today with spots and all.  With a little bit of felt, Wonder-Under,  white fabric, a few safety pins and tape we were ready to go.

Every time we go, I wonder why we don't go more often.  The staff is always friendly and so kind when one of my children inevitably spills something.  (Thank goodness this time it was only water)

This may become a regular on our calendar. 

Summer Gardening

Gardening has always been a part of my life.  In Texas, we re-introduced it with a garden of our own.  We watered, weeded and had pretty good success with tomatoes, carrots and beans.  We moved to Pittsburgh with grand dream of making sure we bought a house with good garden space.  Well, we have good garden space, it also happens to be the only flat part of the lawn we have as well as the only part that gets really good sun.  Add the need for a tract of lawn for the kids to play on and the deer that wonder through the back yard together and we decided to try container gardening.  We have a high deck off the family room making it quite accessible for watering and it gets decent sun.  I do have to run woodchuck/ground hogs off every once in a while but the plants seem to be doing well.

Left to right: carrots, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, front center: peppers

I have three planters of carrots, two for corn, two for peppers, three for tomatoes, and three for cucumbers.  I also have a small planter wtih some herbs in it.  I've fallen in love with fresh Basil. Burpee had a special container variety of corn so I thought I'd try it just for fun.  We had a pretty intense storm the other night that blow my corn down so we'll see if it revives.  We also bought a short variety of carrots so they should do really well in our containers.  My cucumbers have blossoms and there are some tomatoes on the vines.  I'm excited to see what we get from this little garden and see how we can expand and improve on it next year.  I already know I'll do more carrots.  We love carrots.

Sage, Parsley, Basil

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Oh Say, Can You See . . .

Our place settings for our 4th of July dinner.
The 4th of July, what a day!  I am so grateful for the opportunity we have to live in this country.  My sister-in-law said it best when she wrote about the great sacrifice of the people who fought and decided to seek independence.  I truly believe this country is blessed by God as we seek his will and work, by faith to maintain our freedoms.

That being said, I wanted to share a bit of our celebration.  We were going to have a party full of fireworks and tasty food, instead I think we did somethings that truly represents the idea of the American Dream.  We worked.  We ended up driving up to my parents to help them with some garden work they needed to get done.  We accomplished a lot between rain showers.

The men worked on the garden stockade to keep the deer out of the garden.  Over the course of two days, they dug 36 post holes and placed 40 posts in concrete.  My dad was putting up the fence today.  Mom and I weeded a bit and just tried to keep the munchkins happy.

We decorated stars and flags.
My mom, Hannah and I have started a tradition of painting our toenails when we get together.  This time it was flags and red, white and blue.
A quick game of croquet after dinner, before we all fell over from exhaustion.
The rainbow after the downpour we had just as the guys were placing the last four posts on Friday.

Singing camp songs by the fire.  One of my favorite things to do. 
They had worked really hard.  They were good sports to hang out with us Friday night.
The kids enjoyed the glow sticks and s'mores.
I am so glad we could help my parents and spend time with them.  They are such hardworking people and never cease to teach me how to be a better person.