Thursday, July 31, 2008

Things that have made my summer (and most of them I didn't even plan!)

1. This trampoline:

Okay, this one I planned. When it arrived, I truly think I squealed louder than my kids. And clapped my hands, jumping up and down. I didn't even know then the, literally, hours my kids (and all the neighbors) would spend on this thing. There is NO downside. Exercise, entertainment, sleeping quarters...this trampoline has it all. Best money I've spent all year.

2.This activity (all Emma's idea).

Have your oldest, most responsible kid get all of your bikes, trikes, wagons, and scooters out of the garage. Have her call all of the neighbor kids over. Give her a bottle of dish soap (you'll never see a drop of it again, but it will be worth it.) Give her a hose and allow her to "clean" every piece of your equipment in your garage. Everyone was busy, wet and happy for at least an hour and your stuff looked shiny and new when they were done. Ingenious.

3. This drink

Meghann, my best food friend ever, gave me this mix for my birthday. It was amazing, especially after I figured out how to crush the ice to a molecular consistency. We ate the whole can in 4 days and then I called Meghann and she said it cost $16 at Williams-Sonoma and I really wished I hadn't given any of that liquid gold to my kids.

I have since spent every night perfecting Ilene's frozen hot chocolate recipe, to try to get it the closer to the Serendipity one. (Sorry, Ilene, yours was yummy, but too chocolatety for Ryan). This is what I've come up with:

Jessica's frozen hot chocolate

2.5 T. cocoa powder

3.5 T. good hot chocolate mix (love the LDS Cannery's mix)

1 T. Quik

6 T. sugar

1 T. malted milk powder (I don't even like malt flavoring, but it is essential in this recipe)

1/2 c. cream

1/2 c. milk

3 c. ice

Mix everything but the ice in a blender. Add ice. Blend, stir with spoon, blend again. Get that ice completely and totally pulverized. Serve in two tall glasses.

(But, for a splurge sometime, really....get the Serendipity brand).

4. This vest.

I made Seth put this on this morning, just for your viewing pleasure, beloved blog audience, and he will now ask me ALL DAY LONG when we are going swimming, no matter how many times I tell him we aren't. So I hope you are appreciative.

So I went to Target in California to get a swim vest for Seth. (side note: Ryan is opposed to floaty swim-aids. As a former swim teacher, he thinks it gets in the way of learning to swim...but since I have a million children now, I cannot be on top of Seth-with-no-life-saving-device.) This was the only one they had, so I bought it.

It is the best thing ever. It isn't super-floaty, so they have to do a lot of the work themselves. Seth kicks his legs, uses his arms, and can get anywhere in the pool, but is perfectly safe. I've never seen this type of vest before, but I love it.

So there. You have one month of summer left. Use these ideas and thank me later.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Summary in Pictures

Notice Seth's finger. This is how it looks for 90% of the things he says to us.

Evidence that Seth actually got to attend the "buwday pawdy" that he mentioned 1, 214 times. Word to the wise: Don't mention the party to a 3 year old till one hour before. "Is today da buwday pawdy, mom?" "Dis my buwday present, mom, foh da pawdy?" "Is today tomorrow, foh da pawdy mom?" (ad nauseum)

The teepee in which the kids got initiated into sacred Native American ceremonies for Stake Pioneer Day. They got real Indian tears, fossilized as rocks. As Jane said, "I'm sewious."

A picture of what happens when no one shows up to ward Park Day (at the Liberty Lake County Park): you actually make a sandcastle with your cute kids...instead of talking to your friends the whole time.

We took the kids to Riverfront Park to ride the rides. Quotable quote: Ryan said, "I think something in me has officially snapped. Even looking at these rides makes me sick."

Some random picture that the kids did. I included it due to the Rolaids bottle in the front, as my week was filled with almost constant heartburn. I've been to the doctor today and got a prescription for some harder stuff. (5th pregnancy=not so fun.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just the Facts, Ma'am by Gabe


my Grandma and Grandpa on my dad's side did it

and me and my two cousins, Mallory and Cecily


I went to see my Grandma. I went swimming a lot. Lots and lots of swimming.

And I went to a (what's that thing? where you fire your painting?) , yeah, Ceramics.

I went to see Narnia: Prince Caspian.

And then I went to this fun place called Boomers, where I got a hole in one.

And I went on this long drive to pan for gold.

And I got some new toys. And I went to San Fransisco, all different places.

We don't have a picture of this but we saw this man scaring people who pretended he's like a bush. We got some new clothes. We saw sea lions. We got candy. And I went on stage with this magic trick lady.

And I went to this place where there's this cafe that's all about rainforests.


when I turn 8, everybody who's 8 (or 7 turning 8) goes to my Grandma's house every June. I think that's it.


in California


because my Grandma and Grandpa love me and want me to have fun!

I want to say "p.s. at the end my Grandpa and Grandma were exhausted!"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Entertainer

(if I had music on my blog, you'd SO be hearing: da da da da DAH di DAH di DAH, but I don't, so you aren't)
Something that probably doesn't need to be said: I am a very social being. Something else that doesn't need to be said: I love to cook (and share my cooking). The third thing that doesn't need to be said: I don't like to wait for something fun to happen.
All of these three, obvious-to-anyone-who-knows-me, statements mean that I LOVE to entertain. I am very comfortable having a group of people to my house and I love having control over what is eaten and what is done. We have people over for dinner, desserts, game nights or parties probably at least once a week.
That being said...I have a few hurdles that stand in the way of a good gathering for me.
Hurdle #1--my husband. Married to ANYONE else, as Ryan has noted, Ryan would seem like a very social guy. But because he is married to me, he has to take on the role of "Whoa, Jessica, I don't think we can fit that in this week." Which makes him seem like Mr. Anti-Social, which he's not. Once, while living in Utah, he was fed up and said, "That's it. I really cannot handle having anymore social gatherings at our house!" I pouted and knew he'd come around, eventually, when he saw how boring things were. He didn't. I finally had to come to him, teary-eyed, and tell him how much entertaining lifted me and that we had to find a compromise. We have. But I have to be careful and read between the lines with him.
Hurdle #2--my mother. She is the Queen of Beautiful Hostessing. I am not. I am the Queen of It Tastes Good But It's In The Stained Pan From Our Wedding Gifts or the Queen of Sure, Folding Chairs In The Living Room Look Fine. She has matching tablecloths, tons of pretty dishes and centerpieces and the energy to put it all together at the end. Sometimes the daughter-in-me has to fight the "this doesn't look pretty enough" thoughts in my head (as I did for my book club, see picture right with Nicole enjoying the fruits of my labor), because otherwise I'm afraid I'd entertain less often for fear of the stress it would create.
Hurdle #3--I overbuy, overcook and overplan. In a big way. For the aforementioned book club gathering, I truly had twice as much as I needed. (I served the leftovers to 3 families the next night.) Ryan has a much more accurate eye for how much we need, and I am learning to trust his figures, instead of mine. But. Is there anything more scary than the thought that the guest could want more food, AND I WOULDN'T HAVE ANY AVAILABLE???? (No.)
Hurdle #4--We live in an area where, between church friends and neighbor friends, there are easily (not joking) 20 couples/families I would love to invite to any given event. So the choice is: Invite a few and hope the others remember that they got invited before and don't get their feelings hurt OR don't ever do anything. You know what I choose, but I actually make a list of everyone I want to hang out with and rotate through, (lists, schedules, rules--aahh!) so I feel better.
What are your hurdles?
And P.S. Why am I having to put periods between every paragraph to get the spacing I want??!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Summary

Seth was busy this week putting rocks in his ears. Because Ryan can do everything Seth bypassed me as he headed up the stairs, saying: "I'm going tew Dad I have a wock in my eaw." After some headshaking, tweezing and special application of a fine-point screw driver, Seth now only seems like he has rocks for brains.

Jane was busy this week perfecting this trick: on the trampoline. She did it this week about 40 times, for each of us. She also learned to do the monkey bars a few weeks ago. Who needs kindergarten when you've got the circus in your future??

(old photo with some of the awesome cousins at Gabe's 6 year old birthday)
Gabe was busy this week hanging out with his fabulous cousins. Dawson came up this week to hang out with the Spokane boy cousins and they had a lot planned. Do any of you know of any 12 and 10 year olds who would go out of their way to invite and cheer for the inclusion of their 7 year old cousin?? Seriously it gets me all choked up when I think about how kind Dawson, Austin and Landon are to Gabe. He had the time of his life sleeping over, playing video games, swimming, etc. with the big kids.

Emma was busy being an angel. Seriously. She didn't get to go on the Girl Cousin swap this year and never complained once while Gabe was off having fun. We tried to make it up to her with some dates with Mom and Dad, a play-date and a cousin sleepover, but I just admire so much how she never whined about things being unfair for her this week.

Ryan was busy NOT buying an expensive road bike. Instead he took a hand-me-down, 25 year old, Panasonic (which doesn't make bikes anymore) ten-speed and changed out the tires, painted the frame, re-wrapped the handle bars, tuned up the breaks and gearing, and attaching a water-bottle holder thing. $100 vs. $1000?? That's a week's worth of work Ryan can feel proud of.

Jessica was busy having a birthday. Cinnamon rolls for breakfast, lunch out with friends, Spaghetti Factory with family for dinner (no matter how much you gear up for how fun it's going to be to spend the evening in a restaurant with your kids, IT NEVER IS), and chocolate and ice cream for dessert--what more could a pregnant lady want for her birthday?
And, now, YOU are no longer busy reading our Sunday Summary. Have a good week!

Quick Quote #25

Seth tries to read our moods by asking (especially when he can sense frustration): "Mom, awe you nicely??"

Friday, July 18, 2008

Safety First

Last Thursday morning, while driving in the car--
Aunt Bekah: "Jessica, do you know that they crawl out of that broken screen in their room all the time?"
Jessica (thinking she must be exaggerating): "Emma. You don't crawl out of the screen (and on the roof) in your room do you?"

(The window and ledge that were holding stuff and Emma, apparently)
Emma: "Just when we need to get stuff."
Jessica: "Get stuff??! What stuff?"
Emma: "Stuff that fell out."
Thursday afternoon--

(The fixing of the screen. Notice Emma's sadness. How will she ever get her stuff? Also, worth mentioning: the little kid in the background was later revealed to have been found beginning to climb out to get stuff, too. Yikes.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


(Before birthday #1, with the best parents ever.)

Here are the best things a blogger could get for her birthday:

Tribute Posts (!) from
Paige (slightly nice, mostly making fun)

Thanks to those who have loved and blessed me through all 34 years.

Monday, July 14, 2008

You wanna come to my house?

Hey! It's the BEST time of the year to visit Spokane! Why don't you come visit us?

Really? You're going to come?! We are going to have SO MUCH FUN! This is what we're going to do:

Day One:
I'm going to take you to this cute little park in our town. You won't want to drive after your travels and it's only a mile away. Plus, if your kids get thirsty, they can just drink the recycled water from the fun water apparatus they have there:

After a nice long nap, in the evening we'll head up to Tubbs Hill in Coeur d'Alene.

It's our favorite hike. It's an easy 45 minutes, even with 3 year olds, holding hands:

or we'll just stop a third of the way and let the kids "play" in the water. I'm sure they won't dive in and completely soak their NON-swimming shorts.

And, duh! we would NEVER leave C d'A without a stop at Gooey's for the Famous Sundaes As Big As Your Head. Here's Seth finishing his:

Day Two
We'll pack a picnic (even though that's my LEAST favorite thing to do) and head out to Manito Park. We'll have to walk around the whole thing, because we don't want to miss:

the serene Japanese gardens (serene until we arrive with our boatload of kids)

the Rose Garden (where after you tell your kids to find the best smelling and prettiest rose, you'll have to drag even the boys away):

the perfectly symetrical English gardens. Watch out, though, your two year old might slip in the fountain and cry for 20 minutes about it. (Apparently, when you hang out with me, kids get wetter than necessary).

We'll end the outing, having our picnic at the kids playground. If you look super-smart and articulate, you might end up on the news (see post below).

Day Three
I hope you're up for more outings. We've got lots more to do! Today we'll take you to Riverfront Park.

If you are a cute 20 year old, you might have a "special" boy stalk you through the movie theater, no matter how many times you change seats, while the rest off us watch the IMAX.

If you're under 10, you'll love the barf-inducing carnie rides:

If you're alive, you'll love the 100 year old Carousel:

Day Four
Today we'll beg Ryan's uncle Doug to let us come hang out at his resort/pool. We'll bring our own treats, so as not to impose, but aunt Marcie will probably come out with a pile of her own to share.

We'll be sick of all of our kids by now, so Ryan will generously volunteer to watch all of them so that we can have a night out. If you actually keep your eyes open in one of the pictures (Bekah), we'll put that one on the blog. If not, you have to have the one with your eyes shut.

Day Five
We'll probably cancel our plans to pick strawberries (do you want to load up your kids again??) and decide to drive to a close park with my favorite Sourdough sandwiches and sit there for hours while our kids ride on the now-illegal-but-most-fun park equipment.

Doesn't that sound like fun??

And we haven't even talked about food. I'll cook you my Easy Chicken Bake for Sunday dinner, the yummy Cafe Rio Knock-off Salad, and some No-Bake Cheesecake. If you love mongolian BBQ, like my sister Bekah, we'll take you to Hu-Hot for some yummy noodles and stuff.

We promise, if you come, you'll leave exhausted, entertained, fattened-up and parked-out.

See you soon!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tips from a Big Time Star

Yeah, well, since I was really famous and on TV today, I thought I'd share tips on how you too could be a big time star.

1. When you're at the park and your sister tells you that the news people are walking toward you guys and maybe you'll be on TV, believe her and just in case put on your lipstick.

2. When the newswoman comes up to you and asks if you have an opinion on anything, say "Yes." (because, really, you always do...)

3. Try not to gulp in the middle of word, twice, because you might be a teensy bit nervous.

4. Make sure when you tell the world that kids should eat less processed food rather than take cholesterol drugs, that the camera doesn't film the Cheetos and soda you brought for your kids. Instead quickly push the grapes and WHOLE WHEAT pb&j to the forefront of the picnic table.

5. Make sure your Super Healthy Looking Kids are dressed very cutely and that the Birthday Boy gets the starring role in the "kids playing in the sand" section.

6. Try to decide whether you want to watch, or not watch. Because if you don't watch, you'll never have to really know know if you looked dumb or not.

7. Of course you watch.

Oh, you want to watch? Well, if you insist... Click here. (Then scroll down to the second screen, look in the gray area and in the search area, type on the play button there.)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday Summary

Exciting Events of the past week:

Jane slept on the tramp and got 8 mosquito bites all down one side of her body. What?? You don't think that's super exciting?! Don't tell Jane. Basically the entire week's conversation revolved around those mosquito bites, who touched them, how they are changing, etc. etc. You'd think she'd broken a limb or something.

The big lightening/thunderstorm that lasted for two hours. For this California girl, who never saw summer thunderstorms, it was great fun to watch, as the kids ran in the warm rain. Seth: "Mom! I saw all da lighting!!"

Hours of cleaning and organizing in preparation for the visit of Grandma, Aunt Bekah and Aunt Stacy. Emma: "Mom, we never usually clean this good." Yes, Emma, that's because no one usually lives at our house for 7 days and has to actually close your bathroom door and notice the years worth of dust, moldy underpants and bath toys that we hide behind it.

The Fourth of July
which included
--a spousal fight about whether 4th of July is for spending 5 hours cleaning the basement (Ryan) or attending a picnic with friends and family (Jessica).
--the aforementioned picnic (I won).

--the fun little parade put on by our small town, in which Seth didn't quite get the concept of candy gathering. He would see the float throw the candy, be too slow to beat the sharper kids, but then follow the float down the block hoping they'd throw more directly to him.
--a BBQ in which the World's Biggest Flag Cake was made by Meghann and enjoyed by all
--an 11 minute firework show. (We miss Tracy, CA's and Sandy, UT's extravaganzas)

The Liberty Lake Loop, which is a 4 mile, HILLY run that our city puts on every year. Oh yeah, this pregnant lady ran the WHOLE thing in 38 minutes. (I'm not bragging or anything, just stating facts.) The whole family joined in, with Jane crying during half of her race, because "I got scawed."

The arrival of one grandma, one sister, one aunt and her five children. Don't expect much blogging this week!