Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thanksgiving Point $2 Tuesdays

We ended the month of August with some great fun at Thanksgiving Point, thanks to their $2 attraction sale. Last Tuesday we went to the gardens. The boys had a blast playing in the water at The Ark. And then we met up with The Ridings for a short bit, and then continued on with a family picnic by the gorgeous waterfall, and touring the various gardens. We love the Gardens at Thanksgiving Point; they are just gorgeous!

This Tuesday we, along with Grandma Nancy, visited Animal Farm. Palmer insists it is "Old McDonald's Farm". Once again, we brought a picnic dinner. We rode the wagon, played in the indoor Soil to Market play area, pet most the animals, and fed the goats, llamas, pigs, chickens and ducks. We ended the evening with a pony ride, the boys' favorite part.

Until next August, Thanksgiving Point!

Odd Zoo Trip

We spent a day at the zoo with the Riding family earlier this month. It was an odd zoo trip. There weren't many animals out and about; we only saw a few. I'm guessing that was the case because the weather was really hot. We did see the bird show. However, during the show, while a flock of birds were flying above our heads, one of them fell right next to my sister and died. It lied there fluttering for a bit. She tried to get the workers to come and care for it, but no one said they were allowed to get it. Towards the end of the show a zoo keeper finally made his way over to the now dead bird and flippantly threw it in a nearby bush. It was a bit disturbing. During the last stretch of our trip, Brody's right eye became red and very swollen (which later turned into pink eye) and he had a rash all over the right side of his face. At least there were mechanical dinosaurs to look at, right? Even amidst all these strange occurrences, the kids still had a great time. I guess you just can't go wrong with kids at the zoo, even with the absence of animals, a dead bird and an eye infection, it's still the zoo!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Structured Fun

I've been getting a lot of flack, good natured flack, but flack nonetheless from some dear family members about being somewhat of an anal-overly-organized-schedule-obsessed-mom.

And yes, I must admit that I do like to have most aspects of our day scheduled in advance. I like to have an idea ahead of time, what we are going to do, where we will do it, and with whom. We have scheduled times for our meals, and snacks. I almost always have thought out those meals in advance and make sure they are well balanced. I like to be prepared when we go out, prepared with drinks, snacks, diapers, wipes, toys, a change of clothes, etc.

I also like to keep my kids as clean as possible and try therefore pick cleaner food options. Oranges, pears, and apples are cut up. Ketcup, mustard and other condiments are dispersed at a minimum. I opt for Dums Dums as apposed to Blow Pops because by the time Dum Dums start to get messy, they are gone. I choose Otterpops over other popsicles, because with their wrapping, they usually make a cleaner snack. And in an attempt to keep my home cleaner and more organized, which often feels like a fruitless effort, my boys play with one activity at a time, and clean up that activity before moving onto something else.

We have at our house, what our extended family members refers to as "structured fun." Doesn't make me sound like much fun at all, eh?

But here's a secret... I think structured fun is fun. My kids and I have a good time each and everyday. We play together; we play with friends. We are more often than not out and about. We see things, we experience things, and we pretend. We sing, laugh, tickle, play silly games and hug. And when special times come along, we even diverge from the plan, and act impulsively. So, I'm choosing to take "structured fun" as a compliment, because it is the only way I know how to be a mom without going crazy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Profound Insight from a Three Year Old

Palmer: "Look Mom, missionaries!"
Me: "Yep, I see the missionaries. Do you know what missionaries do Palmer?"
Palmer: (looks at me expectantly)
Me: "They work hard to teach everyone about Jesus. That's their job."
Palmer: "Oh... we have that job too."

I learn from my children daily. It amazes me how true their understanding is of the world around us.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Palmer's First Campout

Our ward's Fathers and Sons Campout was on August 12th. Palmer was so excited to go. He had learned about camping from an episode of Curious George, in which George goes camping, has a fire, and sleeps in a tent. The Monday before our trip, I set up the tent in the front yard to make sure that all the pieces were there and intact. Palmer had so much fun "helping" me set it up, and when it was time to put it away, he wanted to start camping right there and then. When the actual time to go camping came, and we hitched a ride with some friends and went up to Weber Memorial Park. We were greeted by many of Palmer's (and my) friends in the ward. We had our little smokies hobo dinner (Palmer just ate the little smokies), s'mores, dutch oven cobbler, and treats that others shared. Palmer grew tired at about 10:oo pm and wanted to go to bed. However, after we got in our jammies and went to laydown, he bounced around in the tent until 1:00 am. The next day, we woke up and had some breakfast and tried our aim with a BB gun. All in all, a good trip.

R.S. Picnic Luau and Recipes

We had our annual Relief Society Picnic last week. We did a luau theme and held it at a local park. Preparing for this activity was a bit crazy, since Greg was sent on a business trip to New York during the same time, with less than 24 hours notice. But, everything came together at the last minute, thanks to my awesome committee, Greg waking up early before his flight to grill 12 pounds of teriyaki chicken, some vegetable chopping help from my friend Taichelle and some babysitting while I set up from my sister Sariah. We served teriyaki chicken salad (from Our Best Bites) in croissants, a variety of fruit, pasta salad, chips and mandarin orange cake. The chicken salad tasted really good, but was a lot of work. However, I don't think it would take so long with a regular portion. In this case, I multiplied the recipe by eight, and it took six and a half hours of preparation. The cake recipe we've had in the family for a while; it is super quick and easy, and it always turns out delicious. We decorated for the luau with huge handcrafted palm trees, tropical themed plates/tablecloths/centerpieces, and passed out leis to all those in attendance. Then we ended the evening with a limbo contest, one for the kids and one for the adults. It was great fun!

Teriyaki Chicken Salad

2 chicken breasts
1 batch prepared teriyaki sauce (can use store bought, but this homemade sauce is amazing!), divided
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/3 cup sliced green onions, chopped
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 mango, cut into small cubes
1 small can pineapple tidbits
1/3-1/2 cup light mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
croissants or pitas
lettuce leaves

Marinate chicken in teriyaki sauce (reserve about a cup for basting, and 2-3 tablespoons for salad mixture) for at least 4 hours. Grill. While chicken is grilling, combine celery and green onions in a small mixing bowl. When chicken is done, allow to stand for about 10 minutes and then cut into bite-sized pieces. Toss with celery and onions and then add mayonnaise and mix thoroughly. Add 2-3 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce to taste. Refrigerate for several hours.
Right before serving, add mango, pineapple, and nuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on a lettuce leaf in a croissant or a pita.

Mandarin Orange Cake

1 package yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
1 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch pan. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, eggs, oil and mandarin oranges with juice. Beat until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool. In a large bowl, beat together whipped topping, pineapple with juice and dry pudding mix until blended. Spread on cake.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Parade of Homes Ups and Downs

We were able to get free tickets to the Parade of Homes. We took the boys with us our first night and went to check out a few homes for our Family Home Evening. One home we saw with the kids was the house modeled after the home on the movie Up. I was pretty impressed with it. They did a great job replicating the house while also making it livable. Palmer, especially, thought this house was fun.
We drove to another house. While walking out of the first room in it, Brody threw a tantrum and dropped to the ground while I was holding his hand, which pulled his elbow out of socket. This had happened once before, so we instantly knew what was going on. The injury is called nursemaid's elbow, and if it's occurred once, it's common for it to happen again. We quickly left and headed to the nearest Instacare. He was in a lot of pain; it was really sad. The doctor popped his elbow back into socket and showed us how to do it if it happens again. So not the most ideal Family Home Evening.

We did get to go see a couple more houses one night with the boys (including a very fun, family home equipt with a playground inside and out, an indoor halfpipe, a theater, a game room, a play room, a hot tub with an amazing view, and a very large separate building to act as a mancave) and Greg and I checked out the houses in Daybreak (including a fabulously gorgeous 7,000+ square foot, $800,000 house across from a lake) for date night. There sure are a lot of beautiful homes in the valley! And it sure is very easy to get caught up in the materialism of it all, and "covet our neighbor's" house. Perhaps one day we will own our dream home, perhaps not. In the meantime, we are thankful for and happy with the house we do have. It is safe, warm, sufficient for our needs, in a neighborhood amongst people we love, and it is in a word, home.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Homemade "Candy" Necklaces

What do you get when you combine...

a string of yarn,

a bunch of Fruit Loops,

and two little boys?

Homemade candy necklaces,
and a whole lot of fun!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Prehistoric Play

We went to The Museum of Ancient History this past Tuesday. Thanksgiving Point is running a Two-Buck Tuesdays special throughout the month of August. The museum is usually a bit pricey, so we jumped at the chance to get our dinosaur fill for a couple dollars. Auntie Sariah joined us on the adventure. We love this museum; there are a lot of cool things to see, a lot of educational information and many stops for kid play. The new Notion of Motion exhibit was really neat as well. And surprisingly, the museum wasn't very crowded. We had a great time, and are looking forward to some more Tuesdays spent at Thanksgiving Point this month.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sprinklers and Other Free Summer Fun

We have been enjoying our summer with a lot of fun free activities. One of which being playing in the sprinklers. Greg's been trying for months to get our sprinklers working properly, to no avail. Although Greg is quite frustrated with the situation, the boys sure are not, since Greg digging in the yard and testing the sprinklers have provided Palmer and Brody with some good quality play time.

I also take the boys to free lunch at the park just about any afternoon that I am able. If we aren't working, or don't have a play date planned with cousins/friends, you will find us dining at the local park. The boys love eating there. They have always been good eaters and happily eat the often not-so-appetizing food that is served, but more so they love to go to lunch at the park to picnic in the sunshine, visit with friends, and run around.

We also make frequent trips to other park playgrounds, to the play area at the fitness center, and to the library. I take the boys swimming about once a week. This summer they have swam at: the fitness center indoor pool, Pappy and Grandma Betty's clubhouse pool, The Daybreak Lake near Grandma Nancy's house, a ward member's hot tub, a family friend's private swimming pool, a few slip and slide parties during friends' barbeque's, and our own little blowup wading pool.

It's summertime, and the living is easy!