Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lembas Bread

I recently indulged my inner nerd and made these Mallorn Leaf Wrappers for my younger brother's birthday.

  He's heading off to college so we gifted him a backpack to lug his stuff around in, and as he's a big LOTR fan I thought it would be fun and symbolic to zip some "Lembas bread" (homemade granola bars, although I tried a scone-like recipe for the picture) inside.  A good excuse, right?  When I told my kids about them they wanted one too, so I had to make us all one.  Mitch is totally excited to take them on his next hike with friends and break them out when everyone's strength is flagging.

First Day of School 2011

Yesterday was the first day of school.  I always have mixed feelings on the first day.  I am excited for all the new things my kids will learn, the friends they'll make.  I know they need the structure.  And yet I miss them.  

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Challenges and Art Projects

Sometimes it's a struggle to keep the kids occupied in the summer.  They've done their chores, played all their games, read books, watched movies, and now they're whining about being bored, sitting in front of the Wii for way to long, or fighting like cats and dogs.  That's when an idea for a fun activity or challenge can really come in handy.  Here are a few of the activities we've done this summer when boredom struck.

They had to build the tallest structure they could using drinking straws, paper clips, and playing cards.

Here I gave them a few boxes of dominoes, popsicle sticks, and plastic cups and told them to build something.  They loved this and asked to do it again another day.

 In this challenge they had to build a catapult using tape, a tongue depressor, a cup and a pipe cleaner.

This time they had to build something out of things they found in the recycle bin.  They all opted for robots.

Yesterday we did an egg drop from 12-15 feet. The kids will had to protect their egg using string, cotton balls, Dixie cups and a freezer bag.  Here's a picture before the drop.

Here's a video of the drop.

I didn't realize until just now when I watched it that Dallin's egg actually fell on the grass.  Hmm, do you think the softer landing may have something to do with his egg being the only one to survive???  Either way, I promised to make cookies with any surviving egg(s), and  having done that I just pulled the last white-chocolate chip cookies out of the oven.  Mmmm.  Thanks, Dallin (with a little help from the grass).

Most of these challenges were taken from this website.  I just stumbled across this blog, which has very creative ideas I want to try as well.  I have also gotten a bunch of art ideas from this website, including step-by-step instructions on how to draw this dog (Adam's, with very little help from me).

One of our next art projects will be these adorable footprint fish!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Utah Trip Part Four - Reunion

It was Mitch's turn to be in charge of his family reunion.  He spent a lot of time researching and choosing the perfect place.  And it was perfect.  An isolated cabin at the foot of the mountains outside Moab, UT with enough room for everyone and to spare.

We went river rafting, toured the beautiful red-rock landscape, and spent time relaxing and playing games at the cabin.

And I feel so lucky to be numbered with this wonderful family.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Utah Trip Part Three - My Family

I love and miss my family so it's always a treat to spend time with them.

We spent a lovely Sunday afternoon with my grandparents.

We got to see my big brother and his family.

And my favorite sister, who always has fun ideas.  Here the boys are playing with oobleck.  They did it last visit and requested the activitiy again this trip!

 We also played Ultimate Frisbee with my younger brothers and niece and nephew and spent time in the beautiful canyon.  We played lots of games in the evenings and laughed a lot.

When we visited my parents I was so glad I had finally finished their portraits so I could present them as belated Mother's Day and Father's Day gifts.  

My youngest brother was such a good sport with my boys, who all love him.

We got a tour of this historic pioneer dugout.

The kids got to help harvest some rhubarb from the garden, which my mom and I turned into pie!

We took a trip up the canyon.  Caleb and Dallin hiked with their uncle John and Mitch to a waterfall while my mom stayed with the little ones and me.  I wish you could have seen how beautiful this little stream was where they played.

It was great to see all those faces I love.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Utah Trip Part Two - The Cabin

We take every chance we can get to spend some time at Mitch's family cabin.  The Uinta mountains are so beautiful and the perfect place to spend a few quiet days together.  Here are some of my favorite photos.

It was fun to see the boys playing something all together.

We went shooting.

Mitch took Caleb and Dallin backpacking one night.

While they were gone, the little ones and I had fun with Grandma and Grandpa.  The picture below shows Adam and Brandt enjoying one of their favorite activities - throwing rocks into water.  This may be my favorite picture of the whole trip.

Brandt wanted to investigate the "hut."

And finally, a trip to the cabin would not be complete without some serious frog/salamander catching down at Grandpa's pond.

Another beautiful trip.

Utah Trip Part One - July 4th

We spent the first two weeks of July visiting family in Utah.  Ahh.  So much fun!

Mitch and I both grew up in small towns, and we have great memories from the fourth of July.  The firemen's breakfast, the parade (saltwater taffy!), and then games and activities at the park.  We wanted our kids to experience a small-town celebration like we remember.  So we spent the holiday in Mitch's hometown, where the kids actually got to be in the parade with their grandpa and a few cousins.  There was plenty of saltwater taffy.

After the parade everyone headed to Central Park for more festivities.

There were foot races for every age group.  Mitch won second place in his race!  I didn't even have the camera out for that but here's Caleb, running super-fast.

Have you ever heard of the candy bomber?  Well he was from this area and for the celebration there was a candy drop from an airplane, just like the candy bomber!  It was awesome!  The plane did a pass or two, swooped back, and with everybody looking up in anticipation, flew over the tops of the trees and released a candy rain!  Whee! It made several passes and drops.

There were games, live music, hamburgers for lunch, and a few rides, including pony rides, and an "airplane" ride made out of old...bombs?  Have you seen Despicable Me?  They looked just like the girls' beds (and highly unlikely to explode).  Sorry, no picture.

In the evening there were sparklers, parachute jumpers and fireworks so close I literally had to get up and move back because I was afraid.  Afterwards we headed back to grandma's to light our own fireworks (by this time I was suppressing yawns), and finally, to bed.  It was such a beautiful day.  Just what we had hoped for.  And I'm proud to be an American.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Brandt's Birthday Party

Brandt. Loves. Trains.

So when it came to deciding what to do for his birthday, there was no decision to  make.  I knew it would be trains.  Now, when my kids turn two, I think they're still too young for a party with friends so we always just have a little party with the family.  No big deal.  Still, I try to make it a special day.  Here are some of the things we did.

We swam in the pool.  You might ask what this had to do with trains.  Nothing.  We just did it because it sounded fun/cool.  And it was!

I just posted three pictures of us swimming because I hardly have any others from this day!  I am looking at my pictures in shock because I can't believe I didn't take more.  *sigh*
That means I'll just have to explain it to you.
This was Brandt's cake, made following an idea from familyfun.

And just for fun I got a roll of wide masking tape and made "tracks" from our front door all the way around out kitchen island.  I placed a covered card table over the tracks to make a "tunnel".  Brandt and the other boys had a blast hooking up together to make a long train (Mitch and I joined in too, of course) and making our way around the track.  Everyone took a turn being the "engine."

I had prepared this egg carton train craft, which my boys all had fun with.  Brandt, was to young to join in the crafting, but he had fun playing with the finished product!

After gifts, I presented each boy with a "ticket" to the train at a local park, where we would take the boys that weekend.

The day we rode the train I tried to get Brandt to wear an engineer's hat for the train ride but he would have none of it.  That's okay.  The train ride ended up being  a lot of fun, even though it was hot outside.  The train even went across a little bridge and through a tunnel.  Overall this was a simple, fun birthday party that made Brand't day special.

Brandt is Two

I can hardly believe my baby is two years old.  And yet, it's gone by so fast!  I love this little guy.

He binds our family together because we all love him so much.  His brothers are always helping him, playing with him and making him laugh.  They may fight with each other but they all have tender hearts towards Brandt.  

Well, look at him.  Can you blame them.?

Brandt can always make me smile.  He'll run at me, arms stretched out yelling, "Maaaahm!"  And when I scoop him up he throws his arms around my neck and hugs me so tightly I wonder how he has such strength in those small arms.  Someday when he's too big to scoop up, maybe when he's a teenager grinning at me after his first shave, or when he's a father scooping up his own son, I want to be able to remember those hugs that were just for me.  Full of all the love in his heart.  And that's why I'm writing this.

Brandt, whenever you need a hug you can come to me because I'll always have a hug just for you too.