Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Jocelyn's 10th Birthday

Jocelyn is a bright, persistent, strong girl. And I love her for it. Sometimes we butt heads because I see myself a lot in her (but I wasn't as smart and driven as she is). I can trust her to babysit now. She loves her pet chickens, still enjoys collecting beanie boos, gymnastics (we signed her up last fall), piano, learning the Articles of Faith, working on her Faith in God, reading Harry Potter (she's on #4 now), playing with her BFF Jocylynn down the street, painting nails, watching "H2O, just add water" on Netflix (a mermaid show....I love it too), playing "teenager", listening to music, and a bunch of other girly stuff. She's growing too fast!

Jocelyn has been asking for a legit mermaid tail and fin since she was 8 years old. She didn't get it when she turned 9 last year. Well, she's much like I was at that age and nagged and persisted all of 2016. She even settled by asking me to make her one or converting her leggings into a fin. All summer she just put both legs into one leg of the legging and let the other empty leg just hang free. She didn't mind that it looked goofy because it allowed her legs to stay tight together to mimic the mermaid tail.  Finally, I was on board. She had proven how much she wanted it and would use it. Now we just needed to work on persuading Tyler. I suggested that she write him a convincing letter of the reasons why it would be a good investment. She did that and waited a few weeks for the opportunity to leave it next to his bed one night. After reading her 4 page dissertation he realized that he couldn't say no. We led her to believe she wasn't going to get one for Christmas and maybe for her birthday. But she did let us know that she'd settle with the actual fin because, although that portion was more expensive, she could use it with her leggings and she could save up for the mermaid tail during the spring.

So, on Christmas morning, to her surprise, she DID get the fin. She was so happy and thrilled that she actually cried. It was really awesome gifting her something that meant so much to her. 

Then, it was an even bigger surprise when two days later, she got the complete set with the mermaid tail. We had already planned a swim date that week with the Stoehr's at the APEX because she couldn't wait to practice in it. (btw, she had already borrowed a friend's fin and qualified in the swimming criteria they suggest on their website. With her strength and swimming abilities, I was not worried about her drowning). Then, she was able to go again with Gpa Stum and cousins on Saturday. It was fun to see her swim in it. She is FAST! She gets a lot of "ooohs and ahhhh" from other little girls and even boys as "the mermaid" swims by. And, it was fun for her to make new acquaintances with other mermaids at the pool.

On the 27th, Jocelyn asked Steph to do her hair for her party. We held it at the stake center to accommodate both huge families and because Steve was hosting a stake wide basketball game series so the guys went over and played during the party and Steve was able to pop in for a bit. Jocelyn's request for dinner was Little Caesars pizza, Fresca, ice cream and pop poke cake. 

After dinner and dessert (of which, we couldn't light candles....lame. I felt badly about that part since we were in a church) the kids ran around and played games. Jocelyn requested Scattegories (one of my faves) and Exploding Kittens. 

This is the only photo I have with her wearing it. This summer I'll have to get some fun shots. 

 So far she's loved it! She's been able to wear it a couple more times since that week. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Colin's 3rd Birthday

I'm just going to say it. I hate December birthdays. With Colin and Jocelyn's bookending Christmas it makes for a busy month. One of these years I'll have a hang of it by giving the kids the credit and fun they deserve and at the same time simplifying and not overlooking Christmas. It's a balance that I am learning to create.

So, sadly, on Colin's actual birthday, the 20th, the MOTAB annual dinner (ie, the only time they recognize and give thanks to their choir, orchestra, etc the whole organization plus their families) by hosting a nice dinner and program at the Grand America Hotel. Normally this event falls the Tuesday after the Christmas concert. But this year the concert was a week later so the dinner fell on Colin's birthday. So we didn't really want to miss this dinner and chose to celebrate his birthday later that week.

That morning he was pleased to get a haircut, haha. I decided just to pay someone to torture him instead of me painstakingly take the time to do it. And I didn't want to wait another week to have Steph try at it when we were in Colorado. So, I took him to Cookie Cutters. After he picked out which vehicle to sit in and facetiming Tyler he calmed down a tiny bit. He was still terrified but the stylist was so fast she got him cut in about 10 minutes or less. He got a balloon and a lollipop and was happy again.

After Cecily came home from school they went outside to play with the chickens in the snow. They tried feeding them raspberries which are the little red drops behind Scalina there. 

Two days later we celebrated. He wanted a pirate cake. We looked at Pinterest and he helped pick out how he wanted it to look. I actually made zucchini bread for his cake because I was making some for neighbors already and it was one of those ways of simplifying. Sadly, we only have video footage of him in front of his cake not an actual photo.

 We sure love our little Colin. He's still a sweetheart. He's such a good example of goodness to our family. He reminds us to pray, he's always willing to help out. He tells us he loves us daily and avoids contention. We are so grateful he's in our lives.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

November 2016

November started out great! Stephanie and I took our boys to Cabela's to see the stuffed animals, fish and outdoor gear. They loved it. Then we made a little video of these two wishing Papa Stoehr a happy birthday. 

Jocelyn won Honorable Mention/Merit Award for her essay in the Reflections contest at school. 

Colin is my favorite little shopping buddy.

 Baby Andrew visiting with Steph and Hannah.

I went to the Dr's office and they're doing major renovation at Alta View Hospital. Colin was in heaven watching the diggers.

 Cecily lost her first tooth!

Sadly, we lost two of our hens this month. Falcy (like a falcon) suffered a broken leg or something that caused her to be paralyzed. I worried she'd had a disease that might spread to the other birds so we quarantined her. But she was unable to reach her food and water and was losing weight. We thought it would be best to end her suffering. The bird vet down the street charged $50 to euthanize her so we had to do it ourselves. It was sad to lose one of our hens so soon.

Then over Thanksgiving break this beauty died. We called her Jewell or Winter. Our barred rock hen that we'd only had for a couple months. But she didn't have any of the same symptoms of the first. I worried it would spread to all the birds but fortunately it didn't.

Jocelyn's pile of kleenex that I found next to her bed as she cried herself to sleep knowing that we were going to take this hens life. 

After having a year of migraines and still no feeling in my right thigh I'd heard about a chiropractor who was helping another child in my neighborhood with his migraines. So I made an appointment and was relieved to find out our insurance covered about half of the visits. I started going 3x a week. They give me exercises to do at home including adding a curve back into my straight neck.

Harvest season was mostly over but on the warm days Cecily and Colin went out to the garden and picked up the old bean pods. She discovered that some had hardened inside allowing us to replant. Cecily wanted to immediately but I told her we needed to wait until next year.

The girls and I went to Brighton High School's production of The Little Mermaid to see a young man in our ward perform as the French chef. After we showed up I learned that we could only pay with cash. They directed me to an ATM. Because we were already running late and not wanting to pay the ATM fee I told the girls we'd just come back the next night to see it. As we were leaving the vice-principal could see we were a little disheartened and ushered me his way. He lead us into the theater and gave us free seats! It was so kind of him! We supported the program buy buying some candy and snacks during intermission with the little cash that I did have in my wallet. It was fun to take the girls to experience live theater. It made me miss my old productions so badly too.

Right before Stephanie and Kyler moved to Colorado we met up at the Bean Museum on BYU Campus. Hannah met up with us too. They had never been before. I love how it's still free. And they have revamped it too. The boys had a blast and it was fun to let them play one last time before they moved miles and miles away.

I loved the colors of the many pumpkins that we grew this fall. In late November they were still in good shape even after sitting outside for all of October. So I brought them in and baked, pureed and froze the filling for year round pumpkin treat goodness.

Usually once a week I swap babysitting with our neighbors, the Smith's. Jocylynn is J's bestie. Jaley is C's bestie. And Colin cries out for his "best friend" Jayden. Sometimes I take the boys shopping with me. They have a blast in the car. They are hilarious. They sing, they talk, they put their arms up when we go down hills. They're best buds and are so cute together. When Colin gets hurt he usually cries, "I want Jaaaaayden". 

Tyler splurged and bought his Uncle Jacks old apple cider press. We collected apples that we'd had left from Stoehr's buying us some (Honeycrisp), Jack gave us some red variety (can't remember the name right now) and our neighbor (who also provided some for my applesauce) gave us Granny Smith, which Tyler also used to make the yummy apple pie. We sampled some that night at our going away party for Steph and Kyler. Tyler calls it liquid gold. We drank some more over Thanksgiving. And we have a gallon left in the freezer. Tyler hopes to make many many more over the years. I  hope he makes enough to justify the cost of the machine. But I suppose I am looking at it less as an investment and more as a hobby (sort of like our chickens, haha).

First, you quarter the fruit. No need to peel or core.

Samuel is learning some knife skills.

Then you push the apples through the grinder and it dices them into tiny pea sized pieces. 

Then, you squeeze the juice out of the chunks by pressing it. The juice comes out of a little spigot down into a pitcher.

 Colin wanted in on the action.

It was this exceptionally warm November day.