Sunday, September 27, 2009

Squash blossoms for linner

Saturdays are special days--they're the days we pack so full of activities that we have to crash on Sunday to recover.
We started off our day with playtime: Christian ran off with the guys to play ultimate frisbey and I watched the daughter of one of those guys while they played. For those who don't know, Christian and I actually met playing ultimate frisbey, which is something of a miracle because I'm not exactly athletic. He always comes home sore, sweaty, and muddy, but I'm supportive.
That afternoon we invited a few friends over for linner--the meal that replaces lunch and dinner. We provided an apple-cider spiced pork loin, mashed potatoes, and drinks (smelled like Fall at our house!), and friends brought salad and, what was probably the highlight of the meal, spicy cheese-curd stuffed mini-bell peppers and fried squash blossoms. I usually think that the very name "cheese curd"is yucky enough to keep this cheese-loving girl from trying them, but oh my! those stuffed peppers were yummy...and cute! And I'm usually opposed to eating flowers, but I'll make an exception for squash blossoms (they're the flowers that grow on squash plants, in case you don't know--and I didn't). My friend Jessica had wanted to try them for a while, and she thought that my culinary-king hubby could help make them yummy. So together they came up with a seasoned cream cheese filling (rosemary, paprika for color, garlic, and a few other things) and fried them. Oh, so good. And odd, therefore fun to eat.
Afterwards, we ventured to the church for an ice cream social with the 3 wards and then watched the RS broadcast, which is often my favorite part of conference. Did anyone else notice how President Uchdorf's hair glowed in the dark? It was especially visible during Sister Beck's talk. And I loved how Sister Beck announced the change of name from Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment Meetings to just plain Relief Society meetings ("Let's just call them what they are!"). I always leave the RS Broadcast feeling like I'm not doing everything I ought to be doing, but that the Lord loves me and with His help I can do better. I also felt so grateful for the sisterhood of Relief Society, and for the stake I am in right now, where I know people from several wards and feel like I belong.
Oh, and we left the broadcast early to run to Culver's for pumpkin spice shakes and watched the rest in the comfort of the Wesel's living room... :)
Overall, the good-kind of busy day.

Junk for sale

The other day my kids approached me with a proposition--they wanted me to make tons of lemonade and brownies so that they could have an impromptu lemonade stand to make lots of money. Always the supportive mother, I told them we'd have to do it another time. They countered with a more realistic offer--could I give them some old junk so that they could have an impromptu garage sale and make tons of money? Well, there's no harm in giving them junk, aside from the potential mess. They had an hour or so to lay out their garage sale and make up price tags. Unfortunately, nobody came so they didn't earn any money. We'll discuss marketing strategies at our next Family Home Evening. They did, however, successfully fill an hour with activity, without any arguing, and they actually did (mostly) clean up their own mess).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Life with Boys

We're still working on our back-to-school routine. Between my ASL class at the local community college, trying to go regularly to the YMCA, the girls' bus and homework schedules, and Christian's work trips, we've been pretty busy and haven't had what I would call a "regular" day yet. Plus, I've been a little sick and, therefore, slow.
Bye the way, I really enjoy being back in school. It took some getting used to, and most of the kids are younger than me, but I'm already excited about doing well. The biggest thing for me is to get practice signing with adults, and I'll definitely get that, especially since the teacher is deaf.

I have really enjoyed having my boys home during the day. When the girls are home, they dominate-- their play, their attitudes, and their needs. Its been so nice to have time with just the boys, and its funny to see just how different it is with them. Our trips in the car are spent counting buses, trucks, motorcycles (or mokocycles), or discussing road repair ("Is this a new road or a bumpy road?"). Our time at home is spent building elaborate GeoTrax or reading books about dinosaurs, pets, or Parts (one of my all-time favorite children's books). I decided not to put Nathan in preschool this year so I could give him more attention and take him to libarary story times or activities at the local childrens' museum--things I rarely did with Rachel at home because it was so difficult to simultaneously interpret for Rachel and keep an eye on Aaron. We are also working our way through a preschool activity book, which he enjoys. And I enjoy getting both boys to nap at the same time...YAY!
So far, the boys love spending two mornings a week with Sister Bolander and her kids (and their pets), and we've gone to the library for story time and play-time with the train set, and they enjoyed going to get the van's oil changed--it is so much easier running errands with 2!Yesterday, we got to go to Gull Meadow Farms with some Moms from the stake. What a fun day! The weather was gorgeous, and it was so nice to have so many Moms and kids to play with. We started out with a tractor ride through the apple orchard, where we picked apples. Another fun thing about boys--I had to teach Nathan to use a tree to go potty when a bathroom wasn't convenient (sorry, no pictures). Nathan thought the tractor and new potty options were the highlight of his day. Afterwards, we enjoyed fresh donuts and cider, before heading over to their play area. The boys loved the huge slide and the hay-maze and Nathan got lost in the bigger maze. One our way home, they each picked out a small pumpkin.
Yay! for Fall, good weather, friends, apple, pumpkins, and boys!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Progress Report

Rachel came home Friday with a list of reading "sight words" for the year. I am worried about how her deafness will affect her ability to learn to read, so for fun I thought I'd see if she knew any of the words already...and guess what? She knew a bunch of them. Here's a list of the words I know she can read (so far):
I, see, me, my, look, the, like, go, and, for, up, to, in, play, on, a, is, we, you, no, yes

There were 9 words on the list that she didn't know, and about half of those are English words not used in ASL.

While I know that plenty of kids enter Kindergarten with reading skills, this is important because in order for her to learn to read, she has to learn English, which is a very different language from ASL. I've worried that she will fall behind in school if she has trouble learning English, and its very encouraging to see that she is motivated, interested, and capable of learning to read.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Aaron's special day

Happy Birthday, Aaron!

Hard to believe its been two years...
for all the gory details, check out our archive.

Aaron was actually born on his due date. He was a gorgeous little guy with lots of blonde hair. I realized, however, that as I switched computers I've misplaced most of his baby pictures, so you'll have to use your imagination...

Aaron may still not really *get* the concept of birthdays, but he definitely understands cake...He was a good little helper......while I put together his snake-cupcake-cake.Then we invited over a few neighborhood kids to share the goodies...Then for the gifts....and playing with a new soccer ball and net...Another shot of Aaron in his princess dress....And finally, we ended the day by inviting ourselves over to our new friends, the Rowley's, place to watch the BYU/Tulane game, and both dressed up for the occasion. Yay Cougars!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back to School

It's the most wonderful time of the year! We loved our summer break, but Rachel has been asking to go to school since the first day of vacation. We were so ready! Here are the girls on the way out the door...
Hannah is in 2nd grade and Rachel is starting Kindergarten. They both attend different schools, so it makes mornings and afternoons a little complicated, but we'll figure it out.
Hannah loves her teacher--she was so excited to get Mr. Cox because he has a snake and isn't supposed to give a lot of homework.
Rachel goes to all-day Kindergarten. She spends her morning in a regular K-class with an interpreter (there are 3 deaf-ish kids in the class) and the afternoon in a classroom for K-5 hearing impaired kids. By the time she gets home she's wiped out and cranky, but I can tell she's having fun. Once we have a better routine, I think it will go more smoothly for all of us.
I'm so grateful for good teachers! I've been so impressed with my experience with public schools. When I walked Rachel to class on the first day (we were a little late), her teacher was telling the class about sign language and explaining that all the kids would get to learn some sign language. I about cried with gratitude for how they are going to far to help my daughter. And Hannah's school is very careful about choosing teachers based on a child's temperament. She's had 5 fabulous teachers already! I'm just so thankful I can know that they are in good hands.

Daddy's special talent

Webkinz-inspired breakfast food:

"Carrot the Snowman"
"Pink the Frog"Who knew pancakes could be so fancy?

Go Cougars!

Since moving out East, Christian has been on a mission--to find some way to watch BYU football! Last weekend we invited ourselves over to our friends' home for a swim/bbq/game party and had a blast. Of course, I didn't take pictures, but Valerie did, and you can see them at her blog, here. (oops, sorry, I forgot her blog is private! So no picts :( )

I also started an ASL class at the local community college this week. I've been putting it off for 5 years because I didn't think I could take a class with so many kids at home, but with the girls in school all day, it seemed like a good time to start. My friend Cosette is watching the boys while I'm in class. I haven't been to school in 6-ish years, so I was excited and nervous, but was comforted as I walked in the front doors to see something familiar--a blue banner with a cougar on it! Go Cougs! (BYU or KVCC).

Saturday, September 5, 2009

the FB question

I had an interesting discussion/comment-fest on Facebook recently, stemming from this FB survey question:

"Should the United States President be allowed to do a nationwide address to our children at school, without prior parental consent? "

This was posted by a friend from high school with this comment:

Ummm...yeah! No one ever polled on the "stupidest" things Bush has done. And Obama's speech is for educational success of the students. Why is this being questioned is beyond my understanding.

I don't usually seek out political debate (unlike my husband), but I couldn't let this go without comment, and it turned into a rather interested chat I wanted to share...Here goes:

Robyn: Sorry, but it sounds to me like propaganda. He's not talking to the kids, he's talking to their parents.

Dipa: I think the msg is to both students and parents on how important it is to take responsibility of educational success.

Jeremy: Dipa! Don't you know he's going to go on there and spread the evil word of helping people! He's going to brainwash them with thoughts of doing homework and treating others with respect! How dare him!! I'm scared because he might even talk about such things as college, integrity, and being a good citizen! How dare him and his evil propaganda!

Robert: There is no reason to think that Obama is going to be doing anything bad. Anyone who thinks that is playing partisan politics and really is part of the problem. It seems that it's only ok when a Republican does this. Does anyone remember Reagan, Bush, or Bush doing this? I do. I even remember the last president reading a book during one of the worst tragedies our world has faced.

Robyn: Okay--Reading a book to kids? No problem. Telling kids to value education? No problem. Talking politics to kids? Not appropriate, whether its Obama, Bush, Reagan, or FDR. The original question is whether Obama should be allowed to address elementary kids without prior parental consent. Parents are always notified before assemblies with guests outside the school system. Parents have a right to know what their kids are hearing.

Dipa: WOW! I didnt think this post would create a debate..hehe J/K!

Remember Bush Sr's speech to students nationwide in 1991 where he encouraged to say no to drugs and work hard and Reagan's politically charged speech back in 1988. So why is this any different???

@Jeremy: You make sure that little Maya goes nowhere near that TV set ;-)... Read More
@Robert: Take a deep breath :D
@Robyn: I agree that when talking politics to young kids, we need parental consent. However, this speech is not abt policy making...its more geared towards encouraging ALL students (elementary to college) to stay in school. :)

Thanks you guys for sharing your thoughts. We are all entitled to our opinions! Have a great wknd! :D

Danielle: It all depends on what he says. Encouraging kids to work hard and value their education is one thing, but if he plans on moving into political territory by talking about his vision for reforming the educational system and the like, well then I agree with Robyn.

Schools should be about giving all points of view and
encouraging students to come to their own conclusions - not saying that Obama WOULD be pushing an agenda but I think it comes second-nature to all politicians. It's an interesting question.

Dipa: It will def be interesting to see what he says and how its going to get interpreted, regardless of party affiliation.

Robert: Everyone is speculating. Why not assume that he's going to support illegal activities too or legal but immoral ones? We could just start with a reality check and think that he's going to do what he said. He is going to talk to them about education.

Robyn: I shouldn't have used the word "propaganda." The concerning part of the original question was "without prior parental consent." Whether or not I agree with his politics, I would of course allow my kids to listen to him talk to them, but I don't see any reason not to give the parents prior notice. In public schools, parents always have the right to know what is happening.

Dipa: Your right abt the concerning question "w/o parental consent"...but it seems that as soon as this hit in media that Obama was going to talk to students, it was misinterpreted to the actual speech which has caused the current controversy.

Robert: Fair enough about parental consent. I would hope that parents have been teaching their children to listen to everyone and make decisions based on what they experience and learn rather than having to simply follow. The only people I have seen actually complaining are the ones who think Obama is going to brainwash their children. I have been to several presidential speeches, both Republican and Democrat, and have never seen any problems.

Once the Republican attack machine gets going, it seems that people forget how to think for themselves. If people would put partisan politics aside and look at what is really happening, they would find most of their fears are completely unfounded.

Also, I wanted to point out that of the people participating in this discussion, I only know Dipa and Danielle. I think I'm going to drop it at this point--I don't think I'm going to change any minds.

However, I did want to say that I think Obama is doing this as a political move. When presidents of any political party involved themselves with kids, it is politically motivated. It might also be beneficial for the kids (like when Presidents read to kids), but the president wouldn't do it unless it helped his image. I'm not really a fan of using kids to boost image.

So--any thoughts to add to this debate?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Being Braggy

A few months ago I hinted at a project I was working on, an idea borrowed from DeAnn's Super Saturday and transformed in my imagination to something much more complicated. After approximately 9 months of work (and procrastination), it is finally done, and I'm here to brag about it.

The growth chart:

Hannah helped with the instalation. We put it in our hall, just across from the kids' school pictures and our bedroom door, so I can see it first thing every morning (it makes me happy!):
And the kids, testing it out:Yay! I finally finished something!