Friday, January 27, 2012

One of those homey kind of days...

Today started early and it started rough. Jubilee had been up often during the night and then woke early this morning and I just felt exhausted before the day even started. I asked mom to take some things over to a baby shower I was supposed to attend (boo! sorry to miss you guys) at my Mom to Mom group, and decided it would be a "have fun in our PJs at home" kind of day. And it was.
We made apple cake (from Simply in Season cookbook) I had been craving for a while, we listened to the new Sparkle stories, we made play doh and played in the back yard sunshine. We rested (at least Jubilee and I did:) and then mom and Joel got home and that always lifts our spirits. We ate dinner out with the family and now we are all happily tucked in bed. Ahhhh. I was a little bit hazy but we had a pretty joyful day, and that is much more than I had hoped for when the day began!

Amelia stirring with a chopstick because....she's Amelia.
Coming in from outside play to lick the spoon:)

Listening to Sparkle stories.
Mixing the play doh. Why on the floor? I don't know. I was sleepy:)
Excited to see what color it made....purple!
Dinosaur play is the rage around here. Also, watching dinosaur documentaries. Snore! How many pictures do I have of them playing with play doh with animals like this over the years? Many, many,many:)
Sweet Mam.
Sweet Joel.
Sweet Jubilee.
Goodnight all! Jen

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My little flower...

Adorable headband made by my friend Diana. So talented! Sweet Jubilee, four months old and cuter every day:)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Coloring the snow...

Another Pinterest idea in action, today we put food coloring and water in squirt bottles for the kids and Vera to "color the snow". It was fun! They did squirt it in the snow, but then spent most of the time in the sand box making colorful cakes and things:) Oh, they were busy. The best kind of busy.

(Just FYI in case you decide to do this, I quickly figured out that many refills were needed for their little squirt bottles and so I got a water jug they could control and brought it outside, along with the food coloring so that they could make their own refills!)

Man, today was one of those days that was good but I am just so tired by the end of it! Poor Jubilee hasn't been feeling great, so she hasn't been sleeping as much as she usually does and I am feeling it! Hopefully she'll bounce back soon! So, I am hitting "publish post" and then heading to bed. Hope you all are well, Jen

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


So, the kids have been listening to Sparkle stories and loving them! I've heard about them in the blogosphere for a while but didn't know if I wanted to spend $$ monthly on audio stories when I could get audio books from the library. I won't go into all the reasons why I decided it was okay, but I did and I'm glad! The stories are simple, focus a lot on nature and seasons, are relatable to the kids and the things they enjoy...they are just great! I have been using them for those moments when I'm nursing or rocking Jubilee or need to make dinner and the kids are needing attention and I don't want to rely on movies for entertainment. Anyway, I loved walking in on them in their jammies, listening and looking out the window today. So sweet:)

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Here's Amelia finally asleep. She woke up at 4:30am this morning...yawn! She finally napped at 2 and slept until 5:30. Sooo, we'll see what time she stays awake until tonight! Our Amelia, ever the sleep fighter.

Here's Sam making a "Snow factory" after listening to one of the stories about kids making an ice factory. :)

Okay, that's all for now! Jen

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Natural play spaces...

On Pinterest I pinned a blog post from one of my favorite blogs and I have had SO many people repin it, that I thought I'd share it here with you. You know, in case you aren't on Pinterest! It's a series on creating natural play spaces outdoors. You can find it here. Now, I grew up in the country and so there wasn't really a need to "create" natural play spaces. I mean, we just went out our door and into the fields or the woods or the pig pen or whatever:) There was an abundance of sticks and rocks and fort making materials and trees to climb and stinging nettle to step on (man that stuff hurt!). Sam and Amelia don't have that. They do have access to beautiful mountains and Red Butte Gardens and great parks and have gone hiking and exploring more in their little lives than I ever did in my 26 years before having them! I'm thankful for that, so very thankful. However, we don't go to those places every day and I want home to have it's own places to explore. When we moved to this house their was literally one small shrub in the back yard and, I'm not kidding, they would sit back there by that shrub for hours looking at bugs and playing with their toy animals in it! That is when I began earnestly seeking out ideas on backyard play space ideas. Not a swing set (though those are great), but ideas on using natural materials to provide them things to build with, explore with, use their senses, etc.
Grandpa Jim came to the rescue and built them a great sandbox that they have spent many, many, many hours in. We also rescued some tree trunk pieces that were being thrown out and put them back there for seating, etc. I also make sure they have lots of digging tools their size and they have a fleet of construction vehicles gathered from yard sales to fill and dump and transport with, etc.
In the Summer they help Joel with the garden, which is wonderful, but I'm inspired to do more! This website, and others, have given me many ideas and I just need to put them in action. Mainly I'm thinking more tree stumps to jump off of, get an ivy tee pee going so they have a shady space, figure out how to organize loose materials for them to build and play with. Those are my starters.
One day, maybe we'll live in the country with them where they can live a more "free range" life:) Until then, we will keep enjoying the awesome outdoor experiences SLC does provide, and keep trying to make our little back yard a haven of it's own.
All for now, Jen

Friday, January 13, 2012

Everyday outdoor play!

You may have noticed my new badge on the right side of the blog, "Everyday outdoor play, our goal for 2012". I found a new blog devoted to teaching her kids about the earth, etc. and that was her creation to remind herself of their goal- I love it and it's definitely a goal of mine too. No matter the weather. Get outside! It's so good for all of us. Yes, it will be tricky at times with the baby, but it is a worthwhile endeavor! I'm not talking hours of play even, just a 10 minute walk around the block counts in my book!
Yesterday afternoon we woke from naps and I realized we hadn't played outside, but it was already getting dark and colder and so I just thought, "Oh well, some days, especially preschool days, it just won't happen!" I know, I give up pretty easily don't I?:) Soon after that thought Amelia said, "Mom, we haven't played outside today! Let's go!" Jubilee was in her diaper ready for a bath, mom had just arrived home from work, Sam didn't want to go out, but I said, "Ok Amelia, let's do it!" Mom stayed inside with Sam and Jubilee and out we went...I was even in my pajama pants because Jubilee had just spit up all over my skirt!:) But it felt SO good crunching around in the snow, taking a short walk, taking out the compost, taking the empty milk bottles out to the cooler on the porch and filling up the bird feeder. We were out maybe 15 or 20 minutes but it was so refreshing. I thanked Amelia for remembering, and I'll try harder to lead the way:) Join us if you will! It's going to be challenging, but worth it for sure! Jen

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A little letter to my Sam.

Sweet Sammy. I love to watch you go to sleep. You still just stare off sleepily into the distance and fall asleep so peacefully. I wonder what you think about as you are drifting off. I suspect these days it's firefighters or dinosaurs or your new guinea pigs maybe. The other morning you told me you had dreamed that Tinker Bell flew past your window and you reached out the window and caught her and asked her to turn you into a giraffe but she just flew away. Just like Tinkerbell, isn't is? :)

You are loving having your own room, except that you'd like Jubilee to sleep in there with you:) You keep everything so tidy and take good care of your toys. I love that about you Sam.
A few things you've said lately that I want to remember:
Tonight you walked in to my room as I was watching Downton Abbey, and said, " Mom, when I get big and grown up and am a daddy, can I watch grown up movies like that?" I said sure and you walked out and met Amelia in the hall and said, "Mena! Guess what? Mama said when I'm a daddy I can watch grown up movies!" :)

Also, little tender spirit, the other evening I heard you and Amelia talking in her room. She was playing a harmonica and singing. Next thing I know you came into my room with your chin quivering and tears running down your face. When I asked what was wrong you said, "Amelia was playing the harmonica and it sounded so sad. Then she sang a song about friends moving away, like JJ, and it just made me cry." Yes, our sweet next door neighbors moved and it is super sad and a harmonica does often sound downhearted as well. You have always been so sensitive to the mood of music. You will often say to me, "Mom, I love this song. It sounds so peaceful doesn't it?"

Another thing I love about you is the way you must. must, must have a hug and a kiss from mama, mammy, or daddy before any of us leave the house. It can be a little traumatic if it doesn't happen,which isn't fun for any of us, but most of the time it is just plain sweet. You also proclaim loudly to your friends that you love them whenever you part. Especially your buddy Vera. "Bye Vewa! I love you!" you yell from the door. One day she ran back in and said, "Sam? I love you too. You're the best!" You still talk about her saying that:) You really do have some great friends. Today your friend Atticus came over. I hope you remember him and how much fun you two had at preschool together, when you get older. Even if you don't remember, I know preschool for you was made even so much more a secure place because you had such a kind, "big boy" friend in Atticus. I think I went into mourning a bit when it was time for him to move to Kindergarten-ha!

You also teach us a lot about compassion. The other day we were talking about "one of daddy's patients", a homeless man we passed that was holding a sign. You asked what it said and we told you he was asking for money. "Because he doesn't have a house, right? Or any money?" you asked. " I want to give him my money out of my cluck cluck." Your "cluck cluck" is a chicken piggy bank you got for Christmas that clucks when your put money in it (who would buy such a thing? Oh right, your mama would:). You have been feverishly collecting coins to put in there to save to buy more rescue vehicles. So, when you said that with such a determined little voice, your daddy's eyes and my eyes filled with tears. Daddy promised to take you shopping with your money to buy some things for his patients to give to them, and he did. You chose thick, wool socks all on your own. Yesterday morning we were on our way to an appt. for Jubilee and saw daddy on outreach with one of his patients. The socks were in the van so I texted him and asked if you could come give them and he said sure. So, we stopped and you walked right up to the man with a big smile on your face and handed him the socks. It did my heart good to see that, Sammy. You saw a need, you sacrificed, you gave.

Anyway, Sammy, just wanted to write these things down while I was thinking of them. You are growing and changing so quickly, getting so close to five years old!! Every year life with you gets sweeter, and I really mean that with all of my heart. You have grown and matured so much, learning to voice your feelings and have "self control" as you like to say these days (" I was about to say, 'Mena, your hair looks like a dugger head (?!)', but I didn't. That's called self control." I'm so proud of you and I love you to the moon and back.


Sunday, January 08, 2012

Sunday afternoon rest...

Loved walking in and seeing these three reading. Joel was reading about wilderness survival, Amelia was looking at "What Baby Needs" by Dr. Sears, and Sam obviously was reading one of his books about firetrucks-all very true to their passions:)

Jubilee and I got some good rest too:) She loves having something soft in her hands to go to sleep with as well as a binkie to suck on.
Anyway, I just love Sunday afternoon rests, don't you?

Friday, January 06, 2012

Little squirrels...

We did a fun little activity at the gardens with Anne and Vera that I wanted to share. I can't take credit for the came from this blog (where I also got the idea and badge to make "outdoor play everyday" a goal for 2012).

The gist of the activity is you cut out paper acorns, hide them for your kids, and your kids pretend to be squirrels finding and gathering them for winter. You can also be predators trying to get the squirrels or steal their acorns:)
So, while getting ready the night before for our outing, I just printed out some acorn coloring sheets, and packed them in the kid's back packs with markers, art boards for a surface to color on, and scissors.

We got there and they played for quite a while and then colored and then Anne and I quickly hid the acorn pictures and explained to them that they were squirrels gathering acorns for the winter. They had to find the acorns and make it back to their tree without the predators (the mamas) getting them or their acorns. It was so much fun to hear their giggles of delight. I think most of it was because the mamas were running and playing with them! They do activities like this all the time at their super fun and creative preschool two mornings a week, which I'm so thankful for, but there is just nothing like having fun with your mama is there (at least when you are four:)? Especially in the fresh (okay, maybe not so fresh in SLC right now), outdoor air. It's one of the reasons I look forward to our homeschooling journey-coming soon in Fall 2012!

Here they are coloring:

Click here for a little look back to the first time we ever went to the gardens!

Before we get off the topic, here are some pictures from when Tara, John Mike, and Echo visited in August and we went...

I just fell in love with Amelia all over again when I saw her sitting there under that tree, with her Auntie Tara's hat on and her red umbrella stuck in the branches behind her. She wasn't feeling well, but it was still Just so her- so beautiful and quirky.

I'm looking back through the blog a lot, getting ready to try and make another blog book for 2008-2009 and I keep finding all of this adorableness that I can't help but share. Click here for a video of our days when they were two. Were their little voices ever really that tiny? AHHHH! SO cute!

Ok, better stop the memory train here and go get some laundry folded:) Jen

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

A few thoughts about this day...

Today was a pretty simple one, but fulfilling! We ate breakfast, put Jubilee down for a nap, got dinner in the crock pot (amazing for me- go Jenny!), got everyone ready for an outing to the gardens (mittens, hats, sweaters, clean diaper, picnic lunch, bathroom, feed baby, pump b/c of another clogged milk duct, change baby, ...whew, not so simple really), got to the gardens about 11:30.
Loved watching the kids play, play, play in the sandbox. Sam remembered to bring his snake and Amelia her turtle for sandbox play. They were making blankets out of leaves for their animals and feeding them "sugar plums" (tiny apples fallen from a tree) and on and on.
We had a picnic in the ivy house, now bare for winter. Here's Sam eating an "Amelia special" that she made-PB and J with sprinkles. Mmmm mmmm. Also an enormous cookie from the central American store down the street. We love those things. Not very sweet at all, but just enough.

It was SO warm (high forties maybe). Inversion down in the city was terrible, but maybe cleaner up at the gardens? We can hope. It felt wonderful. On the topic of their play, I freaked out a bit at Christmas time wondering if their diverging interests ( Sam with his rescue vehicles and Amelia with dolls) would hamper their play, but they are proving me wrong. Today with their animal play, it was like old times. Then look at them in Sammy's "new room" (more on that soon). Amelia's doll was stuck in this ribbon and the ambulance was on its way to the rescue:) Why do I doubt their ability to adapt to each other's interests? They have done it all their lives. I know the day will come when they won't be an into playing with each other, but it isn't here yet!

Here's little Jubilee, just for fun:)

Oh, it was crazy. She was in the middle of her little rug and I went to turn off the bath water for the big kids and when I came back this is how I found her!

It's not time to flip and flop yet little one!
So, afternoon baths, watched a documentary about dinosaurs (booring- oops did I say that?), dinner, books, bed by 7.
Anyway, a pretty typical day so I wanted to record it so I would remember. Still exhausted by the end of it, and not yet feeling relaxed in my days yet- there always seem to be urgencies (time to make lunch and baby needs to go down for nap! Baby is asleep...clean something! Kids are in an errand! Clean something!) . I can't seem to just relax and let it flow. Ah well, it will come. Right?! :)
All for now, Jen

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

If I could bottle this up...

Just a sweet moment before bed when they wanted me to take a picture of all three together.

Then Jubilee grabbed Sam's ear and they thought it was HYSterical:)

I wanted to leave the last one in color to remember it just the way it was. Deep, happy giggles. Not much better:) Jen