Thursday, December 24, 2015

Update on cuteness

A week ago, Strawberry had three teeth - the two center bottom ones, and the top right (her left). I've never had a child do this before, but her forth tooth was another button one! A day later her fifth one, the other top center tooth, broke through, so it looks like she won't stay too uneven for too long.

Also, Strawberry makes extraordinarily excellent teradactyl noises; they are so good, we frequently call her a Berry-dactyl (based on her actual name, rather than her blog name). Other times her excellent tongue and lip buzzing lead us to rename her "Raspberry" instead of "Strawberry".

Wiggles is now very good at saying "yes" and "no". Yesterday Tux Man pointed out how much Wiggles sounds like the bit in Tron, and suggested the new nickname of "Little Bit". His nickname has been "Baby Boy", but since he turns two soon it might be time for a change to that. I really like "Little Bit" and I hope it sticks :).

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Family Christmas Letter 2015

We wrote a family christmas letter this year! (For the first time in several years!)

But I want to know people actually get it, instead of having people who are important to me see it online and having me not know it,  so that later I ask them if they saw it and they're like "Oh yeah, I read that ages ago" and I feel like I was begging for attention that had already been given. So, to avoid that feeling, I'm not generally posting it, at least not at this point.

BUT I really do want people to receive it! so, I made a google form to collect contact information so I can send it to EVERYBODY!

So, here is the link:

If you already filled it out from my link on Facebook, or if you already received a copy by email because I"m related to you and I like to spam you that way, then don't worry about filling out the form again.

Also, if you are a random reader of my blog, please feel free to fill it out anyway! If I'm not going to recognize your name, though, put a description of yourself after your name or in the address field or just somewhere on the form. Thanks! :)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Father and Son Campout

Tux Man, Snuggle Puppy, and Wiggles went on a Father and Son campout with our ward (a ward or a branch is a congregation in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). Here are a few of the pictures from Tux Man's phone.

Monday, October 5, 2015

This I Believe Essay on Reading Aloud

Last Spring, Turtle wrote a "This I Believe" essay for her English Class. She chose to write about the power and influence that reading aloud has had on her life. She was required to make an audio recording of herself reading the essay as part of the assignment.

When Turtle was two, and I was pregnant with Snuggle Puppy, I was horribly sick. I spent the entire pregnancy pretty much bedridden; I lost 30 lbs from pre-pregnancy to pre-delivery. Needless to say, it was a very, very challenging time. Every week, there were six different story times at the Provo library for us to choose between, and we nearly always made it once at some point during the week. It was pretty much the only thing I consistently did with Turtle during that time. (I'm afraid that most of the days, she survived on a great deal of video watching.)

There were two wonderful gentlemen - Mr. Glenn and Mr. Nathan - who ran those story times at the Provo Library, all the way back during 2002-2003. I am hoping that this blog post reaches them. Reading aloud has always been important in our family - my husband and I read aloud to each other on our honeymoon, and we love listening to audio books and reading aloud to each other when traveling - and those story times filled in for me, meeting the read-aloud-needs of my toddler at a time when, most days, I couldn't sit up or stay awake long enough to read even a short picture book to her.

And, not that I'm a proud mom or anything, but isn't my daughter awesome? :p :D

“The young Prince was known here and there (and just about everywhere else) as Prince Brat. Not even black cats would cross his path.”

The Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleischman, is one of my favorite books ever. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve reread the adventure of Jemmy-from-the-streets and Prince Brat, from Jemmy’s baffled, “Gaw!”s to Hold-yer-nose Billy’s garlic breath. My mom read it aloud to me when I was younger (along with a million other books).

My 12 year old brother has varied reactions every time he hears me read it. Sometimes he’ll sigh, like, ugh, not AGAIN!! or bite his lip like he really wants to ask me to stop, but knows how much I love this, so he’s caught in indecision. Other times, he’ll gasp excitedly and drop what he’s doing to come sit near me as I read. It all kind of depends on how long it’s been since the last time I read it to him, and what he’s doing when I start again.

I learned to love reading aloud from years of fluency activities at school and from hours spent listening to my mom and dad read to me when I was younger. Now I read aloud to my brothers all the time. It's a great way to be with them when I wouldn’t otherwise.

I believe in reading aloud. It’s been a core part of my family for as long as I can remember - and even before. My mom and dad took turns reading aloud from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when I was just a few months old. They read to me constantly while I was growing up, and we still spend many hours on long car trips listening to audio books. It’s just what we do; it’s who we are. It’s the way we’ve learned to communicate and discuss things with each other, and it’s the reason I have the relationship I do with my parents today. 

Spending time reading aloud to kids does more than build their relationship with their parents, though: it can make the difference between a kid who loves books and one who hates them. Because my parents read aloud to me when I was little, I decided to push my way through learning to read myself when I got to Kindergarten. If they hadn’t, I would still hate books today. 

The books I've heard and read have influenced everything in my life, from my punishments as a child (if I didn’t finish my homework, I couldn’t go to the library!) to my plans for the future. I want to be an author and create the same kinds of books that I’ve loved my entire life. If my parents hadn’t read to me, I wouldn't be who I am today. If I can write just one book, that just one parent loves enough to read to their child, I will have changed that child’s life forever. That is the power that reading aloud has, and it’s one that I’m grateful for every day.

First Parade

So, all the way back in June, Turtle had her first parade!

We had gotten our new camera just days beforehand, and we really enjoyed trying it out at the parade. 

This picture vividly reminds me that, for Strawberry, this parade was half a lifetime ago.

 Here's Turtle and her awesomeness!

Tux Man was behind the camera - that new camera I mentioned - and suddenly we have pictures of me that I like! Plus, I'm perpetually surrounded by extraordinarily cute babies, so you really can't go wrong. :)

This is Snuggle Puppy, with his back to us,  breaking a board with a karate demonstration that was in the parade. At this exact moment we experimented with Manual Focus instead of Auto Focus on the camera, unfortunately, but it was still cool to see so I included it here anyway.

Finally, don't you love the mystery and wonder of the world around a 1 year old?!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Slideshows from Uncle's Funeral

Now we shall see if the slide shows will work!

Pictures at the grave side:

And then the luncheon afterward:

Sunday Afternoon Excitement

When you are cooking rice, and you put the rice cooker on the stove, and you turn the stove on - even on accident - exciting things happen!

We felt very, very protected. This could easily have been a fire, and possibly a large one. We're especially grateful to all of our neighbors who loaned us fans and who didn't mind our children coming over while we dealt the the toxic fumes.

Also, I'm grateful that the smell has dissipated enough that we dare sleep in our own beds tonight. This could have been much worse, and much more difficult in many ways, and I'm so grateful that it wasn't!

Blood Moon Pictures

None of our pictures came out as perfectly as I'd like, but when you consider that we are taking pictures of the moon, it becomes pretty realistic to not be able to focus with absolute clarity with the camera we have. As it was, it was nice to be out there together as a family and enjoy ice cream while watching the blood moon.

A few clouds passed by

Before I figured out how to turn on the delay, every shot I took was blurred by the camera shake from me pushing the button. Here, I tried to deliberately make that effect bigger, and this was the result.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

I got to cook!

(I'm currently going back and completing drafts of blog entries I started previously. This one was dated June 19, and I'd made it all the way to half way through the first sentence!)

During family council each week, we have been assigning each of the older kids to cook one night. They also do dishes twice... though frequently something happens to change those plans (like an unexpected mid-week change of schedule). Tux Man and I each usually cook twice, plus we have a leftovers night and a date night, and at that point we're up to eight "nights" in the week, but since we also eat lunch on weekends... somehow there are still nights we struggle to pull dinner together, but having everyone contribute certainly helps. 

Anyway, on the weeks when I only cook once or twice, I find I have far more energy - mostly emotional energy - to try new recipes. Also, it helped tremendously to have the older kids home during the summer because they played with the babies while I was cooking. 

As a result, I have discovered the pleasure of cooking. I enjoyed baking in high school, but I've always really struggled with dinner. And, this summer, there were several times when I found myself thinking, I got to cook dinner! It was a nice change.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


On July 30, I started a blog entry entitled "Busy". The title was as far as I got.

I felt that we were incredibly busy this summer. Actually, I stayed home a lot, and I took an online photography course, but I think everyone else was very, very busy.

In July Tux Man went to 11-year-old scout camp for three days before heading to Bear Lake Aquatic Camp. Turtle had girls camp and marching band, and Snuggle Puppy had Bear Lake Aquatic Camp. In August Turtle and Tux Man had Pioneer Trek, and Snuggle Puppy had STEM Camp and then Math Camp. In between we had lots of people stay with us - one week I counted over a dozen - and a family reunion with lots of extended family.

Now that school has started again, Turtle is continuing color guard, a out-of-school writing class, a singing-Disney-songs after school club, Young Women's (her youth group at church), and her gaming group on Saturday afternoons. (It may be time for her to choose between some of those activities....) Snuggle Puppy has Scouts/Young Men's (his youth group at church) and cello lessons, and was choosing between an after school computer programming class with his two best friends, ballroom dance lessons, and running in the election to be a student body officer. I think we've narrowed it down to just scouts, cello, and ballroom, and I'm still nervous about trying to do that much. Oh, and Snuggle Puppy also enjoys the gaming group.

I finished my "foundation level" photography course and took the advanced level as well. I haven't finished the online assignments to get the certificate from either course, and I would really like to, but the live classes were in the middle of the day when everyone was gone and even finding time to watch the recordings in the evening has been challenging. I tried to train for a triathlon, but I simply couldn't make it happen. I have also tried to keep attending the Mom-and-Me swim class at the rec center, and that sometimes happens.

Recently Tux Man has been asked to be the Scoutmaster for the troop of boys from our congregation at church. I am no longer organist; instead I now lead the music.

Part of me would like to cut way back and keep things much simpler, but I also remember being in high school and I remember all the things I did then, that I didn't have opportunities to do at any other time. That is why we choose to continue to fight our way through this busy-ness. It is hard, and there are sacrifices required. We can't all eat together again on Thursdays until October is over, and we may not be able to eat together onWednesdays (unless it is at 4:30, while driving in the truck) until December.

I'm pretty good at taking care of babies by myself (even for several days at a time with no one home at night - I got to practice that skill several times this summer) and I'm pretty good at utilizing help with babies; now I find myself needing to develop the skill of switching back and forth between the two.

I've realized that I try not to go anywhere with the babies, because I'm pretty much never on time (ever) and because sometimes it's really hard. When my older kids were little we were constantly at story time at the library and other toddler-friendly-activities around the community, so I'm starting to make an effort to go places with the babies. I also think I might make the effort to stop grocery shopping with them, or at least to stop doing it by myself with them. It's just terribly time intensive, I've begun to think my time is better spent (read: more efficiently spent) in other pursuits. Time is short, and I'm anxious to use it well. This week we made it to story time at the library, and Tux Man and I did the grocery shopping together today (Saturday). It's definitely a little nuts right now, but I guess as long as I see my kids learning and growing in the ways I feel they need to, we'll just keep charging through it.

French Journal

Snuggle Puppy needed some pictures printed for his French Journal, and the easiest way to give them to him was to post them here. Some may be repeats, but hopefully you will enjoy them anyway!

Weekend trip to Idaho

Posted By Klari to House of Penguin at 9/19/2015 03:56:00 PM

I'm not sure why this dissappeared from my blog, but I'm republishing it - with a few new pictures - and hopefully it will stick this time!

(I've removed the slide shows from this post, in hopes that making them their own post will solve the issues this post was having.)

My dad's youngest brother recently passed away, and we went to Idaho for the funeral last weekend. here are some picture highlights. Some are from my phone, some are from my camera, and I stole the one with my dad from my cousin's Facebook feed. (Thank you!)

Here I am, having just arrived. 

Here's a picture of my dad and his seven brothers displayed the funeral. It's got to be at least a decade old. If anyone can get me a digital (scanned, not cell-phone-camera-ed) copy of this, I would love it!
Because she travels so much for work, my mother had enough hotel points to get a room for her and my dad, and also a room where my sister stayed, along with me and both my babies. I picked up Aunt Philosophy from the airport on our way out of town, and she helped with the babies (read: sat in the back between them, while they cried much of the time). Here is Strawberry riding on the luggage cart as I headed back outside for a second load.

Here is Wiggles asleep in the travel bed. I slept perpendicular to him for the first half of the night, and parallel to him for the rest of the night. Between Wiggles and Strawberry I was up almost every hour, but at least the bed was quite comfortable. (Strawberry's first tooth finally broke the surface Sunday evening, around the time we got home. It's been visible for at least a couple of weeks - maybe more - and since it came through, she's gone back to only getting up once or sometimes twice a night to eat, and sleeping soundly the rest of the time. It's been pretty rough sleeping times for the last few weeks though, and I'm grateful it's finally gotten better!)

Breakfast at the hotel

Apparently I have a businessman in training.
Here is my awesome husband pushing the babies across the cemetery lawn.

One of my cousins, holding Strawberry
An awesome idea - one cousin built shelves into his van!

A truly perfect spiral on the top of the BBQ Chicken Pizza that the "Greatest Aunt" (as opposed to just a "Great Aunt") got just for me, because it's always my favorite!

And here is the Greatest Aunt holding Strawberry!

My cousin took a selfie with my parents. The expressions on my dad's face are often his favorite when a camera appears.

In high school, my father-in-law (on the right) was good friends with both my uncle (on the left) and my uncle who passed away. He came to the funeral with us. I love both of these men very much, and I really love this picture of them eating lunch together. I feel really truly blessed to be related to both of them.

We also got to visit some of my cousins in Shelley:

And Tux Man's cousins in Pocatello:
Wiggles really loved it inside this couch.

One of my cousins wrote an absolutely beautiful blog about my uncle's life, and his passing. I really love all the photos, because every person shown is my family too. Please read it at http://www.believeisaverb.com/2015/09/families-can-be-together-forever.html.