Wednesday, October 30, 2013

September's Random Moments

I feel like a top-notch mom when, every now and then, I do fun educational activities with my kids.

I feel like an even more top-notch mom when John chooses to read a book of his own accord. With the TV on, no less, and a fiction book! He claims that he doesn't like reading, and that the only reading he does like is non-fiction. Each time he says this a little part of us dies. How could Peter and I produce a kid who doesn't like to read?! That defies genetics!

Sam was obsessed with my phone and taking pictures and videos with it, and then watching those videos and scrolling through the pictures over and over (and over) again.

Sam built this enormous Lego train.

I just think this picture is cute.

There was a stretch of absolutely beautiful weather in September when I just wanted to take up residence outside because it was so nice out. I would lay down in the shady soft green grass while my kids played and stare up at the blue sky and feel completely at peace with everything in life. Then I'd snap back to reality and get up and play with the kids or go make dinner. Life can be so good in September!

John's favorite sport right now is kickball. He plays it every day at every recess. He likes it so much that he practices at home with whatever ball he can find.

Sometimes the ball gets kicked into the field and needs to be rescued.

Sam is still happy to play in the sandbox or on the swingset.

Picture of the backyard and the house's behind {insert immature joke here}. 
I like the back of my house better than the front.

 Sam rode his squeaky red tricycle around a lot. 

It was a good month!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Birthday Boy

Sam turned four last month, and he was excited about it since this was the first year that he actually understood what a birthday really means (Presents! And cake!). Here's the photographic documentation of his special day. Peter, John, and I love him so very much and we're all so thankful that he's a part of our family!

I made Thomas the Tank Engine cupcakes for him to bring into his preschool class. 
Sam approved. 

I wrapped his presents and set them out on the table after he went to bed the night before his birthday so that they'd be waiting for him when he got up in the morning. 

Birthday presents at night...

Birthday presents in the morning! Birthday boy included.

Every single present we got him was something train-related. Most of them were Thomas trains or tracks. If it's trains he wants, then it's trains that he gets. I let him open two presents in the morning (one from us and one from my mother), and two or three more throughout the afternoon. That way he had things to play with throughout the day and wasn't totally overloaded in the evening. I call it the fine art of present balance.

Opening Present #1

Opening Present #2. It was nice that he let John help him open it. The picture on the left where Sam's hand is on John's arm is so sweet!

(That gift is a Thomas movie, Blue Mountain Mystery. Sam watched it like twenty times in the first two weeks after he got it. I have to say that it was pretty good for an animated train movie!)

He wanted to take pictures of his presents with my phone. 

He came home from preschool with this cute birthday crown. 
Here he is with another train that he'd just opened for his lunchtime gift.

We went to HuHot for dinner because Sam loves to eat the rice there, and then we went home for 
birthday cake.

Hmmm, this cake is missing something... it's complete!

This is when we were singing to him...

He needed a little help blowing out the candles. John was happy to oblige.

And then Sam proceeded to eat only one bite of his cake. That kid! After the singing and candles he was eager to open the rest of his presents, especially the biggest one that was in the gift bag. (It was Knapford Station, an addition to his train tracks. Just in case you were wondering. You know you were!)

And lastly, here he is playing with some of his new trains and tracks before bedtime.

It was a fun day! 
Happy Birthday Sam, you train-loving little cutie! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Five Things for Friday

1. I bought a bar of lavender goat milk soap last week when I was in New England, and I like this little saying that was on the back of the wrapper: 

God and germs are everywhere, 
So say your prayers and wash your hands.

Cute! Incidentally, the soap is hand-made on a farm in Peter's hometown in Rhode Island by two sisters, 11 and 21 years old. I like supporting businesses like that where they keep it in the family and do the work themselves, as well as keep the ingredients natural. Their website is

2. I'm currently reading a really good book, Insurgent by Veronica Roth. It's the second book in a popular young adult dystopian trilogy. I read the first book, Divergent, right before this one. The third book, Allegiant, comes out next week. I like waiting to read a popular series all at once like this because then I don't have to wait a year (or however long it takes) for the next book to come out. It's my way of outsmarting the system. I know, I'm a genius. 

An added bonus is that Divergent is being made into a movie co-starring Kate Winslet that's scheduled to come out at the end of March next year. I love reading a book and then seeing its movie. I don't think this series is as good as The Hunger Games, but so far, it's really good.  

3. The series finale of TLC's What Not to Wear is tonight. I'm sad that this show is ending! I've been watching it ever since it first started airing back when I was a newlywed in 2003. I remember reading a newspaper article about the show before it started, how it's modeled after a British show, and I thought it sounded fun. I was hooked after the first show and never really stopped watching! I think Stacy and Clinton are funny in their humor (it's so New York, and I love it) and they give great timeless fashion advice. Some of the people they help are so funny, others are annoying, and some of them have been really inspiring.
Several years ago, I was seriously considering nominating a co-worker friend of mine in New Jersey for the show, and I regret not doing it, because I think she would've had a good chance of making it. She was so good-natured (and badly dressed...sorry, but it's true!) and she would have loved it. I wish I'd done it! 

4. Here's something you probably didn't want to know. I've had a few plantar warts on the balls of my feet ever since I was in college. I've done things over the years to try to get rid of them, like Dr. Scholl's medicated pads and good old duct tape, but nothing has worked. So I'm finally having them removed with cryotherapy. It's cool! Literally--my doctor uses a device that looks like a little blowtorch that blows out really cold air and chemicals onto the warts to kill them and freeze them off. It's not nearly as painful as I'd heard it was, and it's working! I've gone in for two treatments and she said that my next one will probably be the last. I'm going to treat myself to a pedicure once they're gone as a reward for finally getting this taken care of. I should've done it a long time ago!

(As a courtesy to you I will NOT include a picture!)

5. They say not to dwell in the past or worry about the future, but I do it all the time. Here's a past, present, future comparison that I'm thinking about today.

Past: Last Friday was a very good day. I was in Massachusetts, and my mom and I visited my sister and my two adorable nephews and and then we went to the new house on Cape Cod, which I got to sleep in for the first time and do some fun shopping for. I really love this house and am so happy with it.  
Present: Today I'm home all day and don't need to go anywhere and I have nothing difficult or stressful on my To-Do List. I love these homebody Fridays! They help keep me sane.
Future: Next Friday morning I'm getting a little dental surgical procedure done. I shouldn't be that nervous about it because I've had so much dental work done over the last 20 years, including some major oral surgery which I was awake for because I was pregnant at the time so I couldn't be put under (that was a really fun experience). So I'm not sure why I'm dreading this as much as I am. It will take less than an hour and I can drive myself home afterwards. I hope it will be as easy as the cryotherapy has been.

So based on those three days, I rate the past Friday in first place, the present Friday (today) second, and next week's Friday dead last. Oh, I shouldn't say dead, I could jinx things for my procedure! Ha ha, just kidding, I'm not really that paranoid. Well maybe I am a little.

I hope you have a fun weekend! My plans include a family trip to Bloomsbury Farm tomorrow and a baby shower. It should be a good weekend!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Requisite Annual Apple Orchard Trip Post

It seems like everyone does a blog post about a family outing to the apple orchard in the fall, so here's my contribution to that group! (With a little twist at the end...oooh, exciting!)  
We went to a really pretty, large apple orchard in September that isn't too far from where we live. My favorite thing about this orchard is the absolutely delicious apple turnovers they make and sell there. 
The views are my second favorite thing.

Pretty scenery

The pickings (get it?) were pretty good despite the drought we'd been experiencing.

Check out that parched grass!

These are always fun, as long as you can get your kids to look through the holes at the same time!

And here's my "Keepin' it Real" part of this post, because sometimes you just have to be honest about the details of your experiences in life, good and bad. Life is too complex to sanitize it all the time when writing about it! While I'm glad we went that day, it would have been nicer if I'd been in a better mood. I was grumpy, plain and simple, and my family was getting on my nerves. It was just one of those days. And it got to be too warm out once we were walking through the lanes and up the hills. Grumpiness + walking around in the heat with (or without) kids while carrying heavy baskets of apples = not fun! But that's just the way life goes sometimes. At least I enjoyed a turnover and a refreshingly cold apple slushie afterwards (it was hot! Did I mention that?). 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall Berries

There's a tree in my front yard that sprouts the most picturesque red berries in the fall. On a recent evening when I was outside with the kids, the lighting was golden and perfect, and I was struck by how perfect these berries looked, so they got their own little photo shoot. 
We sure are having a lovely fall!

I was even inspired to write a haiku poem for the first time. 
(Poetry isn't easy for me, but haiku makes it a lot more fun and simple!) 

Berries on the tree
in the golden days of fall
red, plump, and cheerful.

I hope you're having a happy fall!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mormon Handcart Park

We've lived in Iowa for three years now, and we finally went to Mormon Handcart Park as a family last month. It's not from where we live or from our church. I'm not sure why it took so long for us to go to this lovely park. We had heard of it but we didn't realize it was so nearby and easy to get to until I went there for a Relief Society activity in August. When I went to that I knew I had to bring the family there too so we had a Family Home Evening there a few weeks later. What a lovely, peaceful place it is! I had no idea that it was as nice and historic as it was, and so well-detailed with informative plaques throughout. The walking trails and the native scenic prairie grass and woods are beautiful. I think it's so neat that the Mormon pioneers stayed in this area on their way West. One of the things I like about living in the Midwest is the awesome pioneer history that's here. Our temple is the Nauvoo Temple and it's been so fun getting to know Nauvoo better. We've been blessed to live out here and learn more about our pioneer heritage and to feel of its spirit.

The prairie grass has been maintained, so at the park it looks much like it must have for the pioneers...

...minus the cement walking path for walkers, bikers, and joggers, that is! The boys had a lot of fun racing down the path.

The plaques were informative and well-written.

I had no idea that there was a pioneer burial ground here. It's unmarked, but it's there. It truly is sacred ground.

There were paths that went down into the woods that we'll go back and explore in the future.

Our church is the building in the middle of the picture towards the back (see the steeple pointing up?). It's amazing to me that it's so close to where the pioneers stayed in the 1850s. The street that this park is off of that we drive to church on each Sunday is named "Mormon Trek Boulevard."

What a special place! We hope to return here many times in the future.