Thursday, March 16, 2017

Leprechaun Trap

He, he, he! We're ready for St. Patricks day this year. For our Sat. babysitting playdate we challenged the kids to build a leprechaun trap using simple machines (pull, lever, inclined plane, etc).

The younger ones were not very interested in the idea so the four oldest kids got together and made their contraptions. Three in all, and all of them different. It was fun to see what they came up with. We'll find out tomorrow how well they work!

Tubing Soldier Hollow

On March 3rd the kids were out of school due to all day parent-teacher conferences. We decided to take advantage of it and took the three older kids tubing at Solider Hollow in Midway.

Last year I had to stay home because Andrew was too young to go. This year, we asked Todd's mom to watch him so I could attend as well.

Sally and Claire Davis joined us as well. Kevin was on a flight home from the east coast during that time and could not join us. We certainly missed him in more than one way. We would have loved to have another adult during our rides to increase our gravitational speed.

I met Todd and Sally just outside the entrance and we got in line to catch our first lift.

Todd and Sally had done this before and they had learned a few things along the way.  First of all, get in line as soon as 4 pm (our appointment time) starts. You can get all bundled up while you stand in line.

Once we reached the beginning of the ride, a staff member hooks the loop of our tube onto a pole sticking out from a conveyor belt. We hop on the tube and ride to the top of the hill, where the start of the sliding slopes are.

Once we reached the top we could choose from five different runs, from easiest to most difficult.
We went down as a group a couple of times. Then decided to split up into smaller groups or go down individually.

The run takes about a minute to complete, but the line and ride back up the hill took 10-15 minutes. To the left of the lift area there is a path for those who wish to walk up to the top instead of riding. It was a lot faster, but tiresome. Emilia, Claire, Sally and I did it once. We were able to get one extra run down the slopes because of it.

The best run was number 5 - the furthest one away. There were more severe drops, which made us catch air everytime we did it.

Afterward we stopped at Dickies BBQ for dinner and ice cream cones and drove home to put the kids to bed.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Mid-Winter Break

Over the last few years we have traveled to warmer weather in February for mid-winter break. The kids get the week of President's day off and by then I am ready to take a break myself from the gloomy and snowy weather we have here.

We were planning on traveling this week but with the uncertainty of the adoption and the possibility of a hearing we chose to stay in town and treat it as a staycation.  In hindsight, it was a good decision because we did receive a last-minute call from our attorney telling us we were supposed to appear for a scheduling hearing on Tuesday - but that's a whole different topic.

Monday Todd was home from the office. Emilia volunteered as a helper in Stella's preschool and really enjoyed the experience. For the rest of us, it was a relaxing day with family coming over in the evening for family home evening.

Tuesday the two older ones spent all day up at Brighton with our friend Claire Davis learning how to ski. They were both apprehensive about the experience, but when they got home they were asking when they could go back again.

They had classes sectioned by age. The cut off was 5-7 and 8-12 years old.

Carson did not want to be separated from the girls so we had to make a special request for him to be allowed to join them.

I was planning on going up there with them but woke up with food poisoning so I spent the day homebound.

That evening Stella attended dance class and Carson earned a green stripe on his orange belt in Karate. We have switched back to the rec center near home so that he can be taught by Hanshi Darren.

Wednesday morning we attended the adoption hearing. I was so glad to have something scheduled that afternoon which kept my mind occupied from thinking about what had happened at the hearing.

Right after I got home and picked up the kids from their various places we drove up to Layton to visit the Hill Airforce Base museum.

I had prepared a scavenger hunt for the older kids so there was a purpose to what they were seeing.

Andrew was so full of energy and kept running out of the exhibit area into the hall. I spent a great deal of my time catching him. He's a pretty strong boy so there is little I can do to constrain him and he is not at all inclined to hold my finger. I can see why some parents have leash harnesses for their toddlers.

On Thursday the kids and I visited the Curiosity Museum in Lehi, UT. I take the two younger ones there most Thursdays so I didn't even think of taking pictures of them playing there. There were several elementary school classes there on a field trip so it was a bit crowded so we only stayed for about 90 minutes and decided to go home.

That afternoon 3 out of the 4 kids had their yearly checkups. Interesting fact: Andrew who is 18 months weighs 31 lbs. Stella who is 5 years old weighs 35 lbs. Any guesses as to when he will pass her in weight?

On Friday the kids did their weekly chores during the day. That afternoon we drove to Orem to meet with Nicole and Claire to play at Get Air (a trampoline playground). After dinner, the kids went home with the Easons for a sleepover.  They slept little and played much. By the time I picked them up they were exausted but happy. The perfect end to a great week.

Dry ice bubbles

For our Saturday activity, we decided to experiment with dry ice and dish soap. The result were some amazing bubbles. We dropped a block of dry ice inside a container partially filled with warm water. The only way for the pressure gas was through a tube attached to the side of the container. At the end of the flexible tube was a hose head that the kids dipped in dish soap.

Whenever the lid was placed on the container, the carbon dioxide was forced out through the hose forming large bubbles.  The bubbles pop when coming in contact with body oils so the kids wore gloves to catch them. Some gloves were better than others. In the end, we discovered than dishtowels were the best option.

The kids requested we make 'screaming pennies' with the leftover dry ice.  When the heated pennies are inserted in the dry ice they vibrate and make a high pitch sound.   I had to look up the explanation. When the penny is pushed into the block, the warmth of the metal sublimates the dry ice and causes a change in pressure. As the gas pushes past the coin, the pressure causes that shriek. After some time, the coin forms a larger hole in the dry ice, producing larger air currents that push the coin around, causing it to vibrate and appear to be shivering.

With a range of ages 11 years old - 18 months it is sometimes difficult to find activities that appeal to most. Science seems to be something they all enjoy doing. The educational component is an added bonus!

Valentine's Day

With so many things back to back during the month of February, Valentine's day was almost an afterthought. I did manage to get the kids' school valentines done well ahead of time so all I had to do is put it on their backpacks the night before.

They each got to chose what they wanted to give to friends. Stella chose bubbles, Emilia ring pops and Carson gum - each with their own personalized printable tag.

As for our kids Todd and I decorated each of their doors with words of praise and love the evening of the 13th. When they woke up early the next morning to get ready for school they were surprised by the messages.

Upon coming upstairs they also found they each had a gift bag with a card and some toys from mom and dad. They all received similar gifts: a boogie board (dry-erase board); scented bath bombs or bath coloring drops. Andrew received a toy guitar that plays all kinds of sounds and lights up instead of the boogie board.

As we embark on the process of formally adopting Andrew we have come to appreciate the blessing we have received to be allowed to be parents. We love all our children and are so fortunate for the privilege of being a mother and father to them.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Stella and Vicky's birthday dinner

Todd's family gets together at his parent's house most every month for Sunday dinner. Since Stella shares her birthday with her grandma, for the past five years we have had the tradition of hosting family dinner during the month of February.

There are close to 30 people who attend, so the hardest thing is figuring out the logistics of seating and cooking for a group that size. I think this year was the smoothest one yet. Todd got to use his Anova Sous Vide cooker to prepare the beef tenderloin, which made the all that much easier and delicious. We also made crispy smashed potatoes with avocado aioli and a delicious bunt cake for Stella.  The food was great, the company was even better.

We enjoyed visiting with everyone in attendance and were entertained by Breanne's reading of The Book with No Pictures by BJ Novak.

Vicky and Stella got to open their gifts and we all sang happy birthday to both of them. This year we got some fancy lotus candles. You light a center candle, which in turns opens and lights up 13 additional candles placed on the flower petals. The contraption even plays happy birthday for you. The only downside is that there is not an off switch to shut off the music, which can get annoying. Uncle Brandon finally figured out how to remove the battery so it would stop playing without damaging the candle.

Stella enjoyed her new razor scooter, 18" doll and its accessories. After the party we set up the rainbow light in her bedroom. She loves having a rainbow for a nightlight. Now I think I want one for my bedroom too!

Stella's Baking Party

Five years ago a wonderful new person joined our family. Her name is Stella and she is a key ingredient in our family mix.

Stella enjoys helping me cook and especially bake. To celebrate her birthday we decided to host a baking party. She invited fourteen of her closest friends and family to join her.

We began by having each kid decorate their chef hat and the box they were going to use to keep the cupcakes they made. Stella wore a cupcake hat I crocheted for her.

After the crafts the kids had a cupcake walk, pin the cherry on the cupcake and a matching game where they had to match the cookie cutters to the outline already traced on paper.

Our weather has been unseasonably warm, so we decided to have our pinata outdoors. A couple of weeks ago, we took the kids to Munchies to celebrate some good news we had received regarding our adoption. While leaving I noticed that the communal dumpster area in the parking lot was unlocked. I had been on the hunt for some boxes for my pinata so I decided to take a look at their recycle bin.

I found a large furniture box that I thought would work well for that purpose so I reached in and took it. It barely fit in the trunk of our SUV.  The next morning I got to work tracing the shape of a cupcake, cutting, taping and decorating it. The cardboard box was made of double thick corrugated material. I initially used masking tape as it was shown in the instruction video but our tape would not stick for long, so then I decided to reinforce it with duct tape. Needless it to say, by the time I was done that thing was indestructible.  The kids all went at it for a while and got some dents in but did not brake it. Finally someone hit the bottom of the cupcake pinata and managed to get a tootsie roll to drop to the ground. This re-energized the kids who all began aiming at the same spot. After a few more hits by the older ones the bottom was loosened up and more candy began to fall out after every hit. The younger kids got so excited that they began to rush towards the candy while someone else was still hitting the pinata, so we decided to call it good and Todd grabbed it and after having all the kids gather around him, ripped the bottom part so that all the candy would fall to the ground.

Andrew was a trooper. He was running on one abbreviated nap and lots of candy that afternoon. Fortunately my friend Claudia and her husband Jordan stuck around and were able to entertain him and help with the party. That was especially helpful for the last activity. Each child received four cupcakes, frosting and a selection of sprinkles to decorate their desserts. It was 20 minutes of pure madness to keep up with what each of the children needed, but they all enjoyed decorating and sampling the treats.

Afterward Stella got to  blow out her birthday candle and to open presents while the kids ate their ice cream cake with one of their cupcakes.

Planning the party was fun. I got to do a few things I had not done before such as try a new cupcake recipe and make a pinata. The ice cream cake was new for me too. I decided to make it out of  three layers of Fat Boys ice cream joined together by hot fudge and caramel. After assembling the 2x3 rectangle I placed it in our freezer overnight. In the morning when I went to get it so I could frost it, I found the top two layers had slid and frozen into the picture below. 

I wasn't going to waste good food so for a second I considered it frosting it as it was and calling it modern art. But then I thought better of it and managed to carefully re position each Fat Boy square in its rightful place. In the end, no one was the wiser. 

Stella is an amazing little girl, with an infectious laughter and a twinkle in her eye. She loves her siblings and is especially close to Andrew, her partner in crime and playmate while the older two are in school.

I love my little princess ballerina who will wear dresses or a leotard (or 'nastics as she calls them) every day and night if I let her. Who loves to twirl, read books and who gives some of the best hugs and kisses in the whole wide world.