A perfect activity for a chilly afternoon. 


Pinewood Derby round 1

This week we had the chance to experience the Pinewood Derby. I’d never been to one and didn’t know what to expect. Jess worked on Oliver’s car the night before making sure the weight was around 5 ounces. Oliver and I finished it the day of the races. To finish the car the directions read:

Apply several coats of sanding sealer; then sand entire car with a fine-grade sandpaper. Give model at least two coats of fast-drying paint in your choice of color. When paint is completely dry sand with a fine sandpaper, apply a final coat of paint and allow to dry thoroughly. TO FINISH, rub entire car with a rubbing compound. Details such as steering wheel, windshield, driver, racing numbers, etc., should be added now. For a super finish apply a coat of auto wax and run to a high gloss. 

Um, yeah. Congrats if you got through that whole thing. We spray painted the car red and Oliver put some designs on it with a white paint marker. Not bad at all. Our motto: simple succeeds. Oliver finished 9th out of 30 cars. He was happy with the result. 

It was quite the event. I think the little siblings enjoyed it almost as much, maybe a bit more, than the kids participating. 



It was a whirlwind of a weekend. Jess headed off to Texas to run a Ragnar race. He had a fun time and ran fast. His team finished fourth overall (out of 100+ teams) and had the best team van out there! It was fun to get a text here and there to be updated on the latest. In the photo below, see his reflection in that van there? Look to your right. His team was the NachoAverageRunners and had a Nacho Libre theme. His brother and sister-in-law put it together and are so creative. Love it!

Back at home it got a little crazy. It culminated with discovering that Ian had spilled paint on our office carpet (while I was folding clothes and the other boys were in the room with him, albeit doing something else), rushing to make a moustache for Oliver’s Theodore Roosevelt report, restocking the school art supplies (emergency!), and handing out candy to the kids at lunch for spirit day, plus hosting a gaggle of kids on Friday (and while making them hot chocolate I couldn’t get the whipped cream to, well, whip)! Needless to say on Saturday, I was tired and mentally exhausted. I went to bed at 8:45pm. I should probably do that every night. Haha!

But it was also a weekend of good times. My favorite part was when the kids decided to do this:

That’s right. They slid down the park hill on their bellies. Believe it or not, zero grass stains on their clothes. A miracle! They also did some of this:

...with some friends one afternoon. They call this the zip line and all the kids love it. 

And then there’s Ian. He is riding the scooter with no fear.

Ollie decided to take that same scooter down the sliding hill. 

Wahoo! I guess that was a fitting way to end our whirlwind weekend on a Sunday afternoon. 


Snapshot of the latest

Do you find that the amount of pictures you take correlates directly to the temperature outside? If the temperature is higher I take more photos, which means these cold winter months don’t get as much photo recognition. With that, I give you a quick snapshot of these days with some of the few photos I’ve taken. 

This cute kid is 18 months old and as active as can be. He likes to do everything everyone else is doing. He sings and dances to music, loves basketballs, golf balls, baseballs, soccer balls. He can’t get enough time in swinging, riding his scooter, and reading. Oh yes, and he loves to eat snow. 

We went sledding on a beautiful sunny day in February. 

I took Ian down the hill and he sort of liked it. When Jess showed me this photo all I could think of was, “I totally have mom sledding form here!” The boots, the hood, the face! Ha!

Ansel and Ollie take a breather after several good runs. 

Ansel REALLY wanted to go bowling one afternoon so we made it happen. We have a family bowling tournament coming up and the kid wanted to get some practice in. 

It was league night and the older people couldn’t get enough of Ian. We had several octogenarians smile and wave to the little guy. He was eating it up. 

Jess and I visited the Tiffany Glass exhibit and LOVED it. I mean, look at this wisteria lamp!?! The cost for this lamp was around $499, that’s $10,000 in today’s dollars. These lamps now go for over a million. The workmanship. Wow!

It was fun to see the lamp below because we have a copycat version of it in our home. This outing was a rare date for Jess and I and we were like, “Gee, it sure is fun to hang out together.” Ha!

We took the kids to a basketball game and they enjoyed the first half, tolerated the second half, and could hardly stand the overtime. I remember feeling the exact same way when I was their age going to college basketball games. But it was a great game and we went home with the win!

And that’s about it. The month has turned to March and Oliver is happy to hear the birds, Ansel is eagerly watching the flowers spring up, and Ian wants to ride that scooter everywhere every day. 



$1.50 at DI

One of my greatest accomplishments for this week: buying tinker toys at the DI for $1.50. 



We sure are enjoying the Olympics over here. There has been a lot of figure skating (we need a break), and skiing, and watching the snowboarding was whoa! These people make it look oh so easy. Ollie and Ansel along with cousins and friends have made Olympic and country flags to parade down our street on skateboards, bikes, and scooters. The magic of the Olympics is something. And Korea is doing a great job with hosting. And that drone show during the Opening Ceremonies!?! Jess and I were like, “we are living in the future!”

When I see these people who have put so much time into something, it gives me the extra push I need to do something myself. Does the Olympics do that to you? 

And p.s., did you hear about the Cinderella Law that the Koreas put in place in 2011? It’s a law that restricts youth from gaming from midnight to 6am. Oh man! There is such a problem with gaming addiction that this is a law? And how do they enforce it? I worry a lot about the overuse of technology.  But to hear about this was shocking!


Counting the birds

We have a good friend in the neighborhood who is a legit birder. She goes on trips to watch and photograph birds. She's on the board of the Great Salt Lake Audobon chapter. She has several sets of binoculars and a scope. And she's one of the nicest people around. Recently, she's taken Ollie under her wing, along with a couple of other kids who like birds. As a result, Oliver has learned a bunch about birds. And so have I! Latest year we had the opportunity to go on the Christmas Bird Count activity. 

We counted birds in a specific area of Salt Lake County and then reported them to the group who will then report them to the chapter who then gives the numbers to the national organization and hopefully that gives us an idea of what the bird population is up to. We spend several hours in the cold and snow looking and counting birds.

We had the opportunity to spot several birds. Of course we saw California gulls and Canada geese by the hundreds, but we also saw a Kingfisher, a bald eagle, a red-tailed hawk, a Great blue falcon, a pie-billed Grebe, American coots, and many ducks including the pintail, the ruddy, the shoveler, the bufflehead, the golden eye (Common and Barrow), the green winged teal, the gadwall and this Hooded Merganser. This photo is courtesy of our friend. 

There was a dinner that evening with the Audobon chapter and it was really neat. Ollie and his two birding buddies were the only kids there. Oh, and Ansel. He didn't get to go on the count. And even though his attention span for looking at birds dwindles after 4 minutes, he couldn't bare to miss something that Oliver was doing and so he got to come. The kids' favorite part of the night was the sparkling cranberry juice and raffle. They each came home with prizes. 

I stink at recalling the birds.  I can spot a moving, flying creature from very far away (thank you contacts!), but my best guesses always tend to be wrong. Still, I try. And truth be told, I was reading the bird guide Ansel received at the raffle the other day, and hopefully someday in the future I can point and say, "hey, there's a Clark's Grebe!" And be right. 


And he’s five

Ansel is five and I just can’t believe it! This kid was so excited for his birthday. He counted down the days. 

It sure is fun to have a kid whose birthday is in February because it brings lots of excitement to the month. Poor Ollie’s Birthday is in May, Jess’s is in June, and Ian’s in August; we usually have so much stuff going on around those times I scarcely have time to make a cake. But February. This is the month to be born. It’s like March. It’s great to be born on a month when hardly anything is going on. Sorry Valentine’s and St Patrick’s Day.

Ansel asked for three things for his birthday: gum, a Hot Wheels car, and a birthday party. We have a rule around this household that birthday parties start at age six. I told him this. And he kept asking me. And one night I was telling Jess and he was like, “just throw the kid a party.” I relented. I can’t believe I did. 

Soon Ansel was sorting out the list of invitees, calling them invitations, and storing them in the bullion envelope from the Ramen he had for lunch.

After explaing that an invitation has to contain more information than solely a name, we made real invitations and handed them out on a walk one afternoon. 

Then came the day of the party. There was a ninja theme and the kids were eating it up. Thankfully they are all masked for this shot so I feel like I can include it. 

The best part was the piƱata. It was mayhem, but good mayhem.  At one point the head of the bull fell right off leaving the body full of candy. So I tied the thing back up and the kids had a heck of a time making it burst. It was even better than all the ninja activities I’d planned out. 

The whole thing ended up being a good time. Fortunately, I’m slowing getting the hang of hosting without feeling stressed. Baby steps people but steps nonetheless.

Happy birthday to this kid. I love him lots and lots. 


Author’s gold

When I was in 3rd grade I read the book MATILDA in two days. This was rare for me. I didn’t read a lot as a kid. I’m not sure why I didn’t read a lot, but I think it was because I felt like I had a lot of better things to do. This wasn’t the case with MATILDA. I didn’t want to do anything else but read. 

Now my kids, they actually love to read, but I find that some of the books they’ve ended up thoroughly liking resulted from wetting their whistle and reading it to them at night. Thanks to Jess for this. Once they catch the fire they can really get into a book (Ansel’s interest is a lot higher if pictures are involved). They can’t wait to read or listen to it. When they’re done, it leaves us asking, “Are there more books in this series?” Or “has this author written a thing else?”

A few authors we love around here include:
Roald Dahl
Jeff Kinney
C.S. Lewis
Lemony Snicket

Any additional authors or books you’d recommend?