Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Minor Injury

Last weekend we hosted three of Christian's co-workers from out of town (two from China, one from England). He didn't want to take them out to dinner on Sunday, since we never eat out on Sunday, so instead we invited them to our place for dinner and games. The kids mostly played in the basement, and we heard some rather frightening screams, but didn't think it was anything out of the ordinary. At bedtime, we realized that Nathan's finger was bluish and swollen--and looked broken. We spent Monday and Tuesday morning visiting various doctors and getting an x-ray. As you can see, he isn't all that upset about it. His finger is broken, and he tore a ligament, but it is barely broken and barely injured, so the ortho guy took it out of the splint and recommended I not come back for the 3 week check-up unless it felt worse.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Curtains

We know have curtains in our living room (as opposed to empty, sad looking curtain rods left by the last homeowner).
 I found the blue curtains at Target, but originally I wanted to use them in my bedroom or the dining room, which also both need curtains. Navy blue seems to be my favorite color right now, and I think it would be perfect for several rooms.
 I love them in this room! I think they make the tan wall color, which can sometimes look pink, look much better. This room is a bit tricky because of the green carpet, yellow and tan walls, and my blue couch. I worried about having too much blue, but in this case, I think the darker blue ties everything else together nicely.
 Also, when my Mom was here for Christmas she helped me decorate my bookshelf. All the items, except for the flowers in the clear bowl, were already mine, but I stink at doing decorative arrangements, and it is completely Mom's thing.

A side shot--and yeah, I should have ironed them, but we had company here last weekend and I needed to get them up in a hurry. Plus I hate ironing.

 I'm pleased that we are one step closer to personalizing this home :)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Blogging Kickstart

Happy New Year!

One of the blogs I read posted a bunch of blog prompts, which reminded me of the earlier days of blogging when I posted a mishmash of photos, thoughts, crafts, and whatever else I thought was fun. In an effort to be a better blogger, I'm going to try to follow these prompts (but not every day--that seems like a goal doomed to fail!) through January, as well as post a bit more about what we are up to :)

(The first prompt is about goals for 2014--how boring! Like you all want to hear my wishful thinking about all the amazing stuff I'd like to do this year but probably never will!)

  1. What’s on your reading list for 2014?
This year is going to be awesome. 

I love to read, but I don't read as often as I would like. I think a worthy goal for next year is to read one book a week, but I won't follow through on that so lets say I will read 30 books this year :) On my reading list (according to are over 350 books...

My biggest reading goal is to re-establish a scripture reading routine. We are doing great with family reading every school morning (and its hard--I hate waking up kids, but we like to read together before Hannah leaves at 7). I have yet to find the ideal time to read regularly on my own, and I always think scripture reading should be ideal. Right? 

As I kid/teen, I was so regular about reading scriptures that I had a hard time going to sleep at night without reading at least a few verses, even when I was trying to be bad and skip a day. As an adult, I have slipped out of the habit and find that my scripture reading is less "study" and more "glancing." 

So, reading the scriptures regularly and with purpose. That's the first on  my 2014 reading list.

Other than that, there are a few other books that I have been meaning to read for a long time. The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak is one of those. I hear wonderful things about it, have picked it up many times, but never actually started reading. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is another one--I hear great things, but didn't get past the first chapter. I will read both this year. 

I usually read books that make me want to be part of the story--They are either romantic ( see: Jane Austen, all works) or I like the characters so much I wish I could be their friend. (see also: Jane Austen, all works)

I also want to get back to doing a bit more serious reading. A few years ago, Christian and I read 2 or 3 of the 4 books in the History of Great Britain, starting in the very early years and reading up to maybe the 1500's. It was fascinating! And hard to follow! But I would like to do a bit more of this type of reading. One of the best books I have read in the past few years was the Biography of Benjamin Franklin--what an interesting man! I feel better about myself when I know stuff.

Next up, I want to read more with my kids. I have a few childhood favorites I would love to share with them, and I want to help Aaron, as a new reader, learn to love big, wonderful stories. I sort of gave up on reading with the kids for a while when Rachel was younger--she couldn't hear what I was reading and would feel left out. Now, it isn't an issue. She's a great reader. Now it is more about introducing kids to great stories. As a kid, my Mom would read us books I would never have picked up on my own, and I would sort of hate it and love it. She read us Kon Tiki, by Thor Hyerdahl one summer--its a true story about a man who wanted to show that the Polynesian Islands could have been populated from the East (South American) rather than the West, as most scientists assume. He did this by building a raft, using only the supplies the people at the time would have had, and simply floating on the current. It worked. That story, and memory, sticks with me.

Anything I should add to my list?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Halloween 2013

Playing catch-up:

The boys (Spyro, from Skylanders, and "boy with black cape")
 Isn't the tail adorable?
 The pretty vampire:
 ...and then she turned scary...

 Hannah didn't stay still for pictures, but she wore her Kaos costume from Aaron's party.

Rachel and Daddy walked together on the rain.
 The haul:
 (People in our neighborhood are crazy...who gives out full-size candy bars? My kids got a ridiculous amount of stuff)

 Rachel wasn't done dressing up...she used her red lipstick to get even scarier:

Christian and I dressed up as pirates for our ward trunk or treat:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I love October! I had forgotten how much I liked this month, so it was a pleasant surprise. The weather is just about perfect, and the leaves are gorgeous! It was this time last year that we first came to western Pennsylvania, looking for a house...and while I wasn't sure if I liked the neighborhoods and schools, I loved the leaves :) Sure is pretty.
As Hannah's birthday treat, and as a nice break for us all, we spent General Conference weekend in Ohio. The kids weren't thrilled about watching Conference, so they begged to be allowed to take notes so they had something to do. Um....yes?! I was impressed that they actually did a good job! Even Aaron, although he basically copied what Nathan wrote.

We took a quick trip to a nearby farmer's market to check out the pumpkins, but got rained out before we could buy much :)

Aaron and I are usually at a loss for what to do during our afternoons, since he gets home from Kindergarten at noon and the other kids don't get home until 3-3:40. We went exploring, and found a fun science center (that worked with my membership from Indiana!). Aaron loved it, and we didn't even get to see everything. His favorite part is the real submarine they had floating in the harbor as part of the museum. We got to go down inside a 50 year old sub, which was about as cramped as you would imagine.

See the big yellow duck? Not sure why, but that guy spent 6 weeks floating in Pittsburgh. The city is currently mourning its loss, although I have no idea where it went or why it had to go.

 Also, its crazy just how much Pittsburgh looks like Seattle. The colors, the hills, the rain, the cramped city driving...

Last weekend, Center Township had a small fall festival, which was fun, and exactly what you would expect at a small neighborhood activity. It was way too expensive for an hours' worth of fun, but the kids loved it...Really, anything to get Rachel off the computer is a good idea right now.

 I have been working on a few projects around the house, so in the next day or two I will post some pictures. Oh, and Christian is in China right now, so when he gets back I'm sure he'll have some fun pictures or stories :)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Hannah's Birthday

Hannah turned 11 on October 3. Again, due to Christian's crazy travel schedule lately, we celebrated a few days early. This year we took a big step and decided to get Hannah a phone (and, incidentally, I got to upgrade my old slow phone, too :)  ). We didn't really intend to get her one this early, but eventually we decided that we needed a way to keep in touch as our schedules become busier. She was thrilled!

(Really, she was thrilled, despite her bored expression. I don't think she knew this picture was being taken, and all the other pictures were blurry because she wouldn't hold still!)

 To celebrate, she begged to have the Owens family, from church, come for dinner...mostly because she loves playing with their little girls! We had her favorite soup, Our Best Bites' sausage tortellini soup, with homemade bread bowls.

On her actual birthday, I let her pick dinner again and celebrated with a fun cheesecake.

Happy Birthday, Hannah!

Aaron's Big Party :)

Aaron turned 6 in September, and lucky for his, this was a party year--his first party! (We do parties every other year for the kids, since 4 parties a year is a bit much).

We started brainstorming ideas for his party months ago. Christian and the kids were really excited to do a Skylanders party, based on the video game.

Due to Christians' travel, we had to wait a week and a half to do the party, and we actually celebrated Aaron's birthday with the family 2 days early. Aaron requested a Crazy Cafe dinner--something that is quickly becoming a family birthday tradition. For the Crazy Cafe, I create a menu of the birthday kids' favorite foods, but with crazy names. Each person chooses 3 courses worth of foods without knowing what they are choosing, and it can be pretty nuts--especially when someone gets all condiments for the first course, or no drink until the last. We used to put utensils on the menu also, since it seemed fun to try and make people eat applesauce without a spoon, but that brought kids to tears the first time we tried it. Anyway, we had fun with our Crazy Cafe this year, and Aaron enjoyed a batman cave and Lego set.

Nearly 2 weeks later, on a super-rainy Saturday afternoon (which was unfortunate, since most of our planned activities were outside things), we held a party for about 8 kids.

Hannah dressed up as Kaos, the bad guy in the Skylander game.

I made mini-costumes for each kid so they could become a Skylander character for the game. The costumes caused quite a bit of stress for me, but they were cute and essentially simple hats or tunics with some distinguishing features. I also made several of them too small, and had to hurry to fix them after the party had begun. Whoops!

Christian and Hannah ran the whole party. We started with Find Kaos (or Sardines), a treasure hunt to find gold coins, and a card game called Sky Stones.

After that, we ate pizza, watermelon, and pretzels, classic Skylander power-up food, and started decorating rockets made from 2 liter bottles.

 Next, we headed out under the deck for Chompie pinatas (we made 5 pinatas), which took a long time to crack open, and then used a PVC pipe rocket launcher to shoot of the rockets--Christian made the rocket launcher earlier that morning.

The kids had a blast, and I was really proud of Hannah for how much work she put into her brother's party.
Aaron loves being 6, and he loves being in Kindergarten. He is still really sweet and cuddly, and I am savoring it while it lasts!