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Monday, December 17, 2012

Yes, I'm a Christian who celebrates Hanukkah.

We celebrated the last night of Hanukkah last night with some friends and family.  It was lots of fun filled with food (best latkes yet!), lighting the menorah, stories, playing with friends, and playing dreidel. It's a tradition my brother, Travis, and I have been doing since we got home from Jerusalem in 2007.  This year there was a lot of interest in questions as to why we, as Christians, celebrate Hanukkah.  This seemed like a good place to explain.

First, let's talk about what Hanukkah is.  This is going to be a very brief summary (even shorter than the children's book we have about it!) for brevity's sake.  We all know I'm too long-winded as is.

In the 2nd century BC, the Greeks conquered Jerusalem.  They tried to Hellenize (make Greek) all of the Jews.  (Just like they did to every land they conquered.)  A handful of Jews revolted, refusing to worship idols, and fled Jerusalem.  Through guerrilla warfare, the small number of Jews fought against the Greeks and eventually conquered.  The Greeks withdrew, leaving a broken and desecrated Jerusalem behind them.  The Jews cleaned and fixed the temple, but when they went to rededicated it, they found they only had enough oil for the menorah to last one night.  It takes 8 days to make new oil worthy of the temple.  They felt like they couldn't wait another 8 days to dedicate and truly cleanse the temple, so they used the little oil they had and prayed for a miracle.  And a miracle they got.  The oil burned for 8 nights, until new oil was made to replace it.  It truly was a miracle.

The Jews celebrate Hanukkah by burning candles in a type of menorah with room for 9 candles.  Each night another candle is added (plus one in the middle, called a sammash, that is used to light the rest) until all 8 candles (plus the sammash) are lit, to celebrate the 8 nights that the oil burned.  This celebration is also called the Feast of Lights or the Feast of Dedication.

Christ celebrated the Feast of Dedication.  We read about it in John 10:22: "And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter."  Christ was Jewish.  He celebrated Jewish holidays.

And guess what?  Our religious ancestry is Jewish, too!  We believe our religious fathers were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  We believe the Old Testament.  We believe our history follows the Jews right until Christ, who fulfilled the Law of Moses and established his church upon the earth.  But does that mean he stopped being Jewish?  How about the 12 apostles?  No!  They still practiced many Jewish traditions.  They let go of the Law of Moses and moved onto a higher law, but traditions are not law.  Although they still followed Jewish traditions and customs (kosher eating, circumcision, and probably many holidays), they allowed Gentile converts to Christianity to have different customs.  They were not required to be Christian and Jewish.  And that's where we get the split.  The new branch of the church, the gentiles, didn't follow Jewish traditions.  And guess who kept the church alive through all the Christian persecutions?  Jews?  Gentiles?  It was the Gentiles.  It was due to the mother of a Roman emperor converting to Christianity.  And because its was the Gentiles allowing Christianity to flourish, it was the Gentiles who determined the customs and festivities*.  Thus Christians stopped celebrating Jewish holidays.

So… back to us.  Today.  Do I feel obligated to celebrate Jewish holidays?  No.  In fact, I don't celebrate most.  I've never eaten a Passover dinner (although I would love to).  I do not celebrate the Day of Atonement.  I've celebrated Purim twice, and I want to again.  And I do not fully celebrate Hanukkah.  We do not give out presents every night.  Heck, this year we only lit the menorah for half of the nights and it was our best year yet.  Usually we only remember once or twice.  We don't recite the blessings associated with lighting the candles.

So, then, why do we celebrate at all?  For a handful of reasons.
  1. Because it is part of our history.
  2. Because we like excuses to have parties.
  3. Because we like themed parties (We also have done Spain, Chinese, and Harry Potter parties.  We're hoping to have a Star Wars party in March.)
  4. Because I have a menorah.  Why not use it?
  5. Because it's a great way to teach my kids about another religion and culture.  Not to mention teaching friends and family about the same.
  6. Because it's  great way to teach my kids about miracles.  I love to relate stories to myself and my life.  BJ and I were discussing last night and I think in future we will focus on that more. Perhaps every night when we light the menorah we will tell a story about miracles we've seen in our lives, or in the world, or in church history (both LDS church history and in Christian history.  And in Jewish history!)  Or, perhaps, if we are in need of a miracle ourselves, or know someone who is, we could use the celebration as a means to focus our prayers and discussions and faith on the needed miracle.
  7. The story of Hanukkah is found in the Apocrypha.  Modern-day revelation tells us that, "There are many things contained therein that are true, and it is mostly translated correctly." Although we do not believe the Apocrypha to be canon, it is still worthwhile to read it, with the Spirit.  I believe the story to be true.  I love the story.  I believe it is worthwhile to teach my children.  Just as I believe it is worthwhile to teach them Old Testament stories.  I will definitely place more emphasis on Old Testament stories, but I think the story of Hanukkah has its time and place, too.
  8. I majored in Ancient Near Eastern Studies.  I basically spent years immersed in Jewish and Old Testament culture.  I love it.  I lived in Jerusalem one summer.  All things Jewish have a special place in my heart.  I want them to have a special place in my children's hearts, too.
So there you are.  My long-winded explanation of why we, as Christians, celebrate Hanukkah.  At least in part.  :)  We're going to have another Hanukkah party next year!  I hope you all can come!

*Did you know that most of our holidays were actually a result of the Church trying to eliminate pagan holidays?  They would take a pagan holiday and celebrate a Christian holy day on it.  Then the people still got to celebrate on their holidays.  They just changed why they were celebrating.  So yes, friends, Christmas was actually founded on a pagan holiday.  Which is why we celebrate the birth of Christ in December when he was actually born in the spring.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Milk. And goats!

Week two of the Harvest Time Curriculum is about milk.  


Milk: From Cow to Carton
We liked this book.  It wasn't too wordy and we could skip the details that were starting to bore Kessa.  It must have done it's job, though.  The day after we first read it, she was sitting at the kitchen table drinking milk.  Suddenly she stopped, thought a moment, then proclaimed, "Milk.  Cow!"

Beatrice's Goat
This is a really cute book about a girl in Africa who really wants to go to school, but can't afford it.  Then someone donates a goat to their family (information about the charity who does this is in the back of the book) and she is able to use the money from selling the goat's milk to pay for school.  I think it is slightly above Kessa's level, though.  She's sat through the entire story twice, but she doesn't get excited about wanting to read it again.  I'll bet if we do this curriculum again next year, she'll be ready for it.


Technically the activity is a butter battle.  You put some cream in a jar and let your kid shake it and then put the rest in a mixer and see who is faster, kid or mixer.  I knew this wouldn't fly with Kessa.  She'd probably have shaken it for a grand total of maybe 3 seconds.  Then she'd be done.  And probably want me to finish.  So we just skipped that and instead just made butter.  We've been talking about doing it all week, but timing just never worked out.  On Friday Uncle Travis was here and he cut off a piece of french bread, but we were out of butter and Kessa was Not Pleased with this, so I whipped out the heavy cream and stuck it in the mixer.  5-10 minutes later, we had butter!

And a byproduct of making butter is buttermilk!  (I find it very humorous that buttermilk is the liquid left over when the butter is taken out.)  We put it in a half-pint jar to make something with later.  Mmmm.  Can't wait!

Field Trip:

The suggested field trip is to go to a bakery.  I thought of a better, and more applicable field trip, though.  Our friend, Emily*, raises goats.  So Wednesday morning we got up early and headed up to her place to milk some goats!

It was definitely a fall morning.  One of the first this year.  Abby woke up with cold toes, so she got socks and both girls got long pants and long sleeved shirts.  I thought that would be sufficient.  But when we got there Kessa kept running to spots of sun because the shade was just too cold!  (She is just like her mommy that way.  She despises cold.  This is the first year she's been able to express that, though.  Winter should be fun.)

After Emily came out, we headed out to the … barn?  Anyway, the milking area.  We let one goat in at a time.  Pictured is Mercedes.  Emily milked Claire after this, but I didn't get any pictures of it.  She's brown, in case you're curious.  They are Nubian goats.  Emily walked Kessa through every step of milking.  The goats run right up onto this milking platform, because they know they get grain up there.  The wooden slat around her head keeps her from moving around while milking.  I doubt she would have anyway.  She looooved that grain.  Here Kessa is holding the bowl they'll milk into while looking at the grain Mercedes is eating. She eats a grain mixture (of corn and … oats we think?) and alfalfa pellets.

Next step, wash your hands and the goat's teats to make sure everything is clean.  She also squirted one squirt of milk off to the side, just in case there was any dirt just inside the teat.

And then it was time to milk!  Kessa loved to watch it.  (Gotta love the Instagram picture.  It's the one I took to send around and post on Facebook.)

Kessa surprised me by wanting to help milk.  I didn't think she would, being my cautious child and all, but when I told her a few days before that we were going to go watch a goat get milked, she got all excited and asked if she could do it, too.  I agreed and have been talking it up to her ever since.  But then the night before she stayed up too late so we had to wake her up early that morning.  She was tired and even more shy and cautious than normal, so I wondered if she'd still do it.  But she did!  Emily squeezed the teat up at the top while Kessa squirted the milk out into the bowl.

Afterwards we went hunting for eggs.  We found a bunch in this hole in the barn.  Kessa was scared to reach into the dark until Daddy did it.  Then she did it, too.  We found 6-7 light green eggs.  (Pictures below.)  Emily let us have two of them.  One for each hand.  Kessa had to carry them everywhere after that.  Into the car, into the house.  But she was very careful and didn't break any.  I was actually glad that Kessa insisted on bringing some stuffed animals (Racky and Dave the panda) on our trip.  They made perfect cushions for the eggs.  :)

Then we brought the eggs and milk back into the house (you can see the bowl of eggs on the counter in the background) and strained it through a cloth into a glass jar.  To get out any little bits that managed to sneak by us.

Kessa liked watching it drip.  Emily gave us a half pint of goat milk to take home to taste with the instructions to wait until it was cold.  So after dinner that night we poured each of us a little taste (and Kessa had a cup of cow milk, too, leftover from dinner).  We concluded that it was hard to tell if cow and goat milk have different flavors, because we were comparing raw goat milk to homogenized/pasteurized 2% cow milk.  The goat milk was creamier (duh.  It's whole.) and had a slightly … wild flavor to it.  (Best description we could think of.)  But I've had raw cow milk before, and I would say it has a wild taste to it, too.  I remember my dad telling me about doing milk tasting panels in FFA and they had to figure out what the cow ate.  I don't remember all the foods, but I definitely remember that one of them got into a wild onion patch!  Now I wonder why store-bought milk doesn't have the wild flavor.  Maybe the heat from pasteurization kills flavor?  Maybe because those cows don't get to eat pasture and instead all get the same diet of hay and grain so there is no variety of flavor?  Hmm… my bet is on the latter.

Emily also has a very large dog named Chalcy.  (Look Abby and I were there, too!  So is BJ.  We never got a picture of his face, but he's standing behind Kessa in the above picture.)  She liked to stare right into Abby's face.  Until BJ would go to take a picture, then she'd go away.  She's just like a child that way.  :)

She is unlike a child in that she is VERY obedient.  See that mat on the floor in the corner?  Every time Emily would say "spot!" Chalcy would return to that mat.  But it made me laugh, because she's so big that she could put her back legs on her mat and still have her front legs halfway across the room.  Do you see how big she is?!  She's about as tall as Kessa!  She loves people, too.  So she would come up and try to get you to pet her.  Kessa was intrigued, but super scared, too.  Cautious child, remember?  Here she is reaching up for Daddy to pick her up.  When we were loading up in the car, BJ was asking her about the trip.  When they talked about Chalcy, BJ asked if she scared Kessa a little.  "Yes!  She kept trying to kiss me!"  Hahaha.  Love that girl.

Unrelated to milk except that they were gotten during the goat milking expedition, are eggs!  Kessa was so excited to have green eggs.  She'd open the fridge and point to them and yell, "Green eggs!"  We used it as an opportunity to teach her about how different kinds of chickens lay different colors of eggs. 

And then we fried them for breakfast.  Seeing another teaching moment.  There were two eggs and three of us, so we used one white egg from the fridge.  I asked Kessa if they were the same or different.  She said they were the same.  I asked if she thought they were the same or different on the inside (we had talked about how they were all chicken eggs, even if the shell color was different) and she thought they would be the same.  So we cracked one of each open into the frying pan and she was shocked to see that one yolk was "brown!"  (It's really orange.)  So then we talked about how Emily's chickens get to walk around and eat anything they want.  They eat grains and bugs and stuff.  Their eggs are really nutritious and their yolks are orange. But chickens that lay eggs to be sold in the store are all packed together in a barn and they don't get to eat outside.  They only get to eat the grains and stuff that the farmer feeds them.  Their yolks aren't as nutritious and are yellow.  I then let her choose which egg she wanted to eat, and she chose the yellow one.  Go figure.  [sigh]  In good news, that meant I got to eat the orange one.  :D

*Emily's husband, Jeff, shares the chickens, goats, milk, eggs, dog, etc.  But it was just easier to say Emily than Emily and Jeff.  And Emily is the one who showed us everything while Jeff was a sweet daddy and took care of their unhappy, but adorable, baby.  But thanks to Jeff, too!  Without him, Emily wouldn't have been able to teach us any of this!

Disclaimer: The book links in the posts are links to my Amazon Affiliate program. If you click on the pictures, it will take you to its page on Amazon.  I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make while there.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Week 1: Vegetables

Week one of the Harvest Time Curriculum is about vegetables.


Tops and Bottoms is absolutely adorable.  When I saw it in the Scholastic book order this month, I immediately bought it.  It's the story of a lazy bear who inherited a lot of land and a hard-working, yet risk-taking, hare who lost all his land in a risky bet with a tortoise (hah!) They become business partners and Hare tricks Bear three seasons in a row.  It's cute, it's funny, and the art is very well done.  The book even opens top to bottom instead of side to side.  It might be a tad advanced for Kessa right now, at least, I'm sure I got more kicks out of it than she did, but she still enjoyed reading it several times during the week.

The Vegetables We Eat.  Kessa's first ever non-fiction.  Again, it's a little over Kessa's level (I think all the books might be.  I think this is geared more towards 4+) but not so much that she was bored by it.  It talks about vegetables in a market, the different types of vegetables (roots, leaves, bulbs, fruit, etc.) and talks about how vegetables get from a farm to the store.  It has lots of pictures of many different kinds of vegetables.  When we did the activity, Kessa wanted the book propped open on the table as a guide.


This week's activity was making salt dough vegetables to play with.  Kessa helped us make the dough.

Then we sat down together as a family to make the vegetables one evening.  Daddy taught her how to roll dough into balls and snakes (I'm sure there's a better word for that.  Columns?)

Kessa's first (and only real) vegetable was a potato.  She shaped it on her own, with Daddy's guidance, then she poked it with a toothpick to get the eyes in the potato.  (And you can see the book propped open in the background.)

As BJ rolled a ball, it developed a mouth by itself.  Creeeeeepy.  :)

"Look what I made, Mommy!"

BJ and I probably had more fun making the vegetables than Kessa did.  She played with the dough more than shaped it.  Which is fine.  She felt involved and that's the important part. Her major contribution is in the bottom left.  :)  BJ made the tomato, a carrot, corn, broccoli, pea, and celery, cucumber and butternut squash.  I made the artichoke, bell pepper, pumpkin and the other carrot.  Kessa made the potato and the "cumma wumma lumma for people to sleep on" aka "a common" aka "Topanga's pillow" (BJ's interpretation) aka that blob on the bottom left.

A few days later, Kessa and I painted them.  I was super impressed at her painting skills.  I guess all that handprint painting was good prep for this!  The only help I gave her was to pour out the paint (and sometimes mix it) and remind her to clean her brush between colors.  The rest she did completely on her own.

She painted the tomato, both carrots, peas, pumpkin, squash, pepper and potato. I did the rest.  Pretty good, huh?  I really liked this activity.  And she loves having vegetables to play with in her pretend kitchen.

And for fun, a video of Kessa dancing on the counter (cautiously) while the vegetables baked. (Warning: these take HOURS to bake.  Like, put them in the morning and come back in the afternoon or evening kind of length.  We ended up doing about 4-5 hours in the evening, then waited 2-3 days to let it finish drying before painting.)

Field Trip:

This week's field trip was to the produce section of the grocery store.  I'll admit that I didn't actually make a special trip for this one.  We made several trips to the grocery store and went through the produce department, though.  And on most of them we talked about different vegetables and she named lots of them.  A couple of times I even asked her what type of vegetable one was (broccoli = flower) but it had been too long since we read the book, so she didn't remember.  And I never got pictures.

Disclaimer: The book links are links to my Amazon Affiliate program. If you click on the pictures, it will take you to its page on Amazon.  I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make while there.

Harvest Time Curriculum

My freshman year of college I listened to a talk by a boy I don't remember at all.  But it was about his mom and how big of an influence she had on his life.  (It was probably a mother's day talk.)  The part I specifically remember was how she took an active role in their education outside of school.  She made sure they learned things that they didn't necessarily learn at school.  For example, one month she focused on cooking.  They were each responsible for planning, shopping for, and cooking some number of meals.  Ok, that's great.  But lots of moms do that, right?  But the part that really caught my attention was that she then took them on a field trip to a top notch restaurant and the chef taught them how to cook a dish.  And apparently she did stuff like this all the time.  That sealed this mom in my head as one of the coolest moms ever.  Ever since then, I've wanted to take the same sort of active role in my children's education.

Fast forward to today.  I have a 3-year old and an almost 8-month old.  I'm learning how to manage a large house (after never fully getting a handle on managing our 2-bedroom condo) and I'm still trying to recover from the newborn stage.  I keep trying to do things with Kessa.  Mostly it ends up with us doing some sort of handprint painting that we send off to grandma's.  (Which, I admit, is really fun and makes me a cool mom in Kessa's eyes. Especially since we then hang them up on the wall in our stairway where she sees them every day.)  I even started downloading pre-k packs that have various skills in printable form.  Cutting, drawing, matching, shadow matching, patterns, puzzles, coloring, counting, etc.  Kessa loves them.  Whenever I print anything, she asks if I'm making more school.  She loved doing "school" so much that we decided it would be a good idea to put her in preschool.  So we did.  For 2.5 hours two days per week, she goes to a preschool taught by a lady in my ward.  It's fun, because several of the kids in her class are our neighbors.  And I like it because I know the teacher shares many of my values.

But I kept thinking about how I wanted to play more of an active role.  I don't want to just ship her off to school and only participate in her education when she needs help with homework.  BJ and I have talked a lot about ways we can help teach.  When she has questions about things, we try to give her real answers.  When we see opportunities to teach her, we take them.  We often talk about the different plants in the garden and their different stages of growth.  Today she wanted to look at the flowers outside, so while we did, we talked about how flowers have different parts.  We specifically discussed the petals, stem and leaves.  Then we walked around and found those three parts on several different kinds of flowers.  And then, directed by her, we talked about which flowers were the same, and which were different.  I took it a little further and showed her how some flowers were the same in everything except color.  Someday when she's a little older, we want to do more themed things that cover, potentially, several months.  We want to learn right there with her.  Like maybe we'll do a geology section and do field trips.  Close ones like Rock Canyon.  Far-ish ones like Craters of the Moon and practically all of southern Utah.

But there was still the thought in my mind of doing more themed things now.  And, of course, cool field trips now.  But I'm just not good at creating curriculums or putting things like that together.  The idea is cool, but in practice, I tend to flop pretty quickly.  AND THEN one day I was chatting with my friend, Meagan who home-schools her preschool aged daughter.  She was discussing her need to be more crafty in her homeschooling and mentioned that she ran across a free homeschooling preschool curriculum and wanted my opinion on if it was good in the crafty department.  So I got looking at it and very quickly fell in love.  I realized this is exactly what I wanted to do with Kessa.  It's simple.  It's already planned out.  It's themed.  It has field trips.  And it has cool activities. I quickly set out to figuring out what all I wanted to do and when I'd need to start.  See, there are actually four curriculums, one per season.  The Harvest Curriculum has holiday-centric weeks (Halloween and Thanksgiving) so I wanted to make sure I'd be doing those weeks at the right time.  I quickly discovered that I'd have to take a week out and start right away.  So I did.

The curriculum consists of:

  • Letter of the week.  We decided not to do this because Kessa already has a letter of the week in school.  I didn't want to try and coordinate them or make her have two letters of the week.
  • Primary Story, which is fiction, in general, and you read 2-3 times per week.  (Or more when we really like the books.)
  • Enrichment Book, which is non-fiction in general.  Which you read once per week.  (We're doing more often.)  I like this idea because I didn't realize that non-fiction books were actually good reading outside of research papers until Kessa was born and I wasn't getting any sleep, so I started reading sleep training books.  I like the idea of introducing non-fiction books for the sake of learning early.
  • Activities.  I love these.  They aren't your typical activities I think of, but things like making butter and making candles out of beeswax.
  • Art.  All of the art is based out of a book.  She doesn't describe the art at all, just tells you which one in the book it is and expects you to buy the book.  We decided not to do this.
  • Poem: I'm not a poetry person.  Perhaps that's a good reason to do this section. And maybe periodically I'll throw one in if it's one I already know, like Little Boy Blue.  Or if I decide to be more proactive.  But I'm not planning on it.  And the curriculum has you memorize one poem each month.  I think Kessa could do memorization.  She's pretty good at songs.  But I don't see enough benefit at this stage to make me want to do it.
  • Flower Fairy Alphabet coloring book and corresponding poems (to read, not memorize).  These go with the letter of the week.  We're not doing these for the same reason we're not doing the letter of the week or the poems.
We also rearranged a few weeks to make them fit better for us, so our weeks don't match the original weeks.  I will post about each week about the things we did in each category and link them here.

Week Two - Milk
Week Three - Tractor
Week Four - Grains
Week Five - Apples
Week Six - Leaves
Week Eight - Fall
Week Nine - Pumpkin
Week Ten - Wool/weaving
Week Eleven - Candles
Week Twelve - Thanksgiving

Disclaimer: The book links in the posts are links to my Amazon Affiliate program. If you click on the pictures, it will take you to its page on Amazon.  I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make while there.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lake Powell 2012

I think this may be the fastest I have ever gotten a blog up, seeing as how we got back yesterday.  Especially as a lot of these pictures are from someone else (Thanks, Jessa!)  So here we go, in non-chronological order...

Kessa loved going out on the boat, and she made an excellent flag girl.  :)
And, of course, there was water skiing, etc.  This is BJ up on slalom.  Slalom, btw, is a funny word.  I feel like the word is being mashed up in my mouth as I say it.  And, of course, there was no water skiing, etc. by me.  I figured out a good explanation for why it holds no enticement for me: I have a very low tolerance for danger.  There is no adrenaline thrill to make up for it.  Just sore muscles and terror.  Sorry, folks.  I'm totally lame.  I know.  :)  But working up to that discovery led to a great out-of-context quote, "So… I get my thrills from watching plants grow."  Makes me sound very exciting, doesn't it?

Shawn taught Kessa how to put her two fingers up for pictures.  Doesn't she just look so cool with her two fingers and her sunglasses?  Guess we should take her to Asia now…  Then again, this is the same uncle that taught her to give wet willies.  The best was when she tried to give one to Nana a month or so ago.  Hahaha.

Oh hey, Abby was there, too!  She never went out on the boat or anything.  She never even got her swimming suit on.  But that's ok.  She's still little.  She'll get out there next year.  Abby did pretty great. She loved all the attention, all the people who would hold her.  She was, in general, a very happy baby.  She ate her first green bean and french fry this trip, too and loved them both.  (Yup, we're 100% healthy here!) Her only bad times were sleeping.  You'd think the boat would lull her into sleep, right?  Uhhh… nope.  For the most part she did great, but she had a few times that she'd just cry and cry.  And she woke up every 2-3 hours at night wanting to eat.  She just wanted to eat a LOT this week.  From the moment we left the lake, she went back to being able to go 4-5 hours between eating and had a better, though not perfect, night.   Maybe it was just the newness of the lake?  Being on water all the time?  Maybe she just wanted more comfort...

Awww… sisters.  Kessa just LOVES Abby.  She's always wanting to just touch her.  Case in point:

Nick convinced Kessa to sit on the jet ski with him this morning. It was kind of amazing. She's been so cautious with everything. I think we convinced her because she had on her pjs and she knew he wouldn't actually go out. But then she liked it. So she agreed to put on her swimsuit. We had to do more convincing to get her back on, buy she did and they rode! We practiced her saying, "Slow down, Nick!" and "Speed up, Nick!" She wouldn't let him go faster, so we sent BJ out on the other jet ski so they could chase him. She LOVED it.

She was even happy about it!  Papa spent the morning asking her to go out with him again later. She agreed. "Not now. Later." And then she did! At least, she went with Daddy and Papa took the other one out, too.

Travis gave Kessa some colored sparklers.  She wanted to do them at the lake.  She did 4 of the 5.  My super-cautious child had no fear with the sparklers.  She was flinging them all over, not caring where they landed.  I had to hold them with her to make sure that we didn't get sparks on toes or clothes.  We were successful.  Thanks, Trav!

See?  Non-chronological.  This was our first drive on the houseboat.  Kessa was outside for most of the trip from the marina to our first parking spot.  She was fascinated by everything from the water to the rocks to boats passing by.

We slept downstairs.  There are two bedrooms.  Kessa got one; BJ, Abby and I got the the other.  The first night Abby struggled falling asleep.  We finally got her to sleep and Kessa really wanted to go downstairs.  I wouldn't let her. I closed the door going downstairs to keep her from going down while the rest of us read scriptures.  She pleaded for Racky (a stuffed raccoon I've had since I was about 7) so I finally caved and agreed to go down and get him.  And the door was locked.  And wouldn't unlock.  After a little bit of panic and trying everything we could think of to unlock the door (and Abby waking up and crying) BJ finally just took the door handle off.  That solved the problem.  And he fixed the lock.

This jungle gym was a lifesaver.  Abby loved it and spent lots of time in it.  When Nick would let her, of course… ;)  (I had a picture of Jessa in it, too, but it seems to have mysteriously disappeared…)

Kessa usually napped in her bed.  But sometimes the counter is just better.

Kessa remains a tease.  Perhaps she gets it from Aunt Jessa?  And we all love how incredibly small she looks in comparison.  Hah!

This was our first attempt of getting Kessa in the water.  Last year we succeeded by just putting her in, then distracting her.  This year that tactic failed miserably.  Here's a 6-second video of the result.  And no, those tears are not because the noodle is floating away.  It's because she's floating away from the boat.  After some chats with her, I discovered that she was afraid of floating away from the boat...

…so here's a video of me teaching Kessa how if she holds onto a rope, she can stay right next to the boat.  And how she's strong enough to pull herself in.  Heck, she can pull me in.  She thought it was great.  And slowly, ever so slowly...

...Kessa finally got in the water!  It took a lot of patience and baby steps, but we did it!  And she loved it!  And then never would do it again.  :)  We will definitely be enrolling her in swim lessons this winter.  Also, I feel like a complete hypocrite when I try to convince her that getting into the water will be fun, even when she doesn't want to.  At least I admit that I am one.  :)

And now for some non-photo anecdotes:

One night Shawn pulled out his guitar and sang songs about … anything.  Every person in the room got a verse.  And some things were just completely random.  Several of us had tears in our eyes we were laughing so hard.  My favorite line?  "If two polar bears got married in the temple, they'd evacuate the temple because that has never happened before."

We played lots and lots of games.  Stone Age, Settlers: Cities and Knights, Ticket to Ride (love the bluetooth feature on the app.  We had several games going on iPods, iPhones and iPads.  Yeah… we're an Apple family), Small World, Phase 10, and Dominion.  And probably some others.  There was often a game going on.

Food was delicious.  As always.  Travis sent us with some tomatoes that were GINORMOUS.  Like, probably 7-8" in diameter.  We were a little worried that they wouldn't taste good that big, but they did!  (Again, thanks, Trav!)

The fuel pump for the toy tank died, so Nick got to fix it.  We really are so lucky to have him with us for craziness like that.  And amazingly, he burned a paper clip while trying to fix it.

I have now gone to Lake Powell 5 times.  This is the first time that the rocking of the boat has stayed with me.  All last night I watched as the world gently rocked around me.  It was so weird.  Especially when I was just laying in bed.  Or trying to walk and finding myself not being able to walk a straight line.  Today has been a little better, but I've still had my moments.  So, so weird.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

40-year old memories

While my parents were on their mission, my brother, Damian, lived in their house.  Part of their rent included replacing some of the carpet.  Underneath the carpet was a layer of dirt collected over the years.  Damian gathered all that dirt up and Travis had the brilliant idea to give Mom and Dad a plant from each of us, potted in 40 years of memories (amended with some nutrient-rich soil, of course).

Back Row: Peace Lily (Jalin), some sort of … pine?  fern?  (Travis.  Who killed Mom's fern from Grandpa Lovell's funeral and wanted to get her a fern to replace it.)
Front Row: Aloe Vera (James), some flower I don't remember the name of (Damian), succulents (me)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Julie and Julia

I watched Julie and Julia tonight with my mom as a last hurrah before I go home. This was a horrible idea as its now 1 am and have a 4-hour drive ahead of me tomorrow. But it inspired me to write a blog post about something other than my kids. It doesn't even have pictures! Funnily enough, it's a blog about a movie about a blog about a book. And it's not even some grand spectacular thing like the original blog was. In fact, it's only one little question that is bugging me. (1 am, remember? I don't have time for more than one little question.)

Why did Julia not like Julie's blog?! This seems very un-Julia-like. She likes everyone. It never explains it. (Unless both my mom and I missed it. Which is possible. 1 am. Remember?)

Someone please explain this to me! Please?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Kessa and Abby

Kessa loooooooves being a big sister.  She loves Abby so much.  Here is some picture proof.