Monday, January 20, 2014

The Broken Arm

The Sunday before Thanksgiving (during which Jonah's brother Noah and his family was coming to visit... more on that later), we tromped up to a nearby forest to go on a family walk and gather some wild raspberries for one of the Thanksgiving recipes. 

Happily walking along... until Elsie ran down a hill and tripped or a root and landed on her elbow. She cried a bit and whined a lot and Jonah thought she was being overly dramatic. But, Elsie actually has an incredibly high pain tolerance, so I suspected something serious, even though her arm wasn't swollen or disjointed. (Ana actually severely broke her left humerus in New Zealand when she was seven doing something similarly unexciting, but Ana's arm was three inches longer than it should've been, so we had a pretty good idea that it was the real deal.) 

We gave it a night, and she was still incredibly sore the next day. 

I should've taken her to Urgent Care, because the doctor's office couldn't get me in until 2 pm, and then it took 3.5 hours!!! to have the doctor say that it wasn't broken enough for a cast, but not inoclulous enough to just leave it alone. So, after 3.5 hours of us sitting and waiting, they put on a soft cast/splint and told us to come back in a week for another x-ray. So efficient. 

Elsie was pretty bummed about the soft cast while her cousin was here, but we did cheat a couple times and let her take off the soft cast to shower and maybe we even let her get in the hot tub.... 
In any case, here we are a week later for the follow up visit. After TWO hours with the pediatrician again, we were sent down the street to the orthopedic surgeon. At this point, we NEEDED ice cream sandwiches because I was fairly irate. 

The orthopedic surgeon said she had the slightest of slight fractures along the bottom right side of her humerus and that she'd probably be fine with a soft cast/splint for another 3-4 weeks, but why not just do a hard cast for two weeks to be sure the healing was a done deal? It seemed like good medical "practice" to me, so here she is with her new blue cast (to match her school uniform). 

Actually, the main reason I thought it would be okay to get a hard cast is because she doesn't seem like the type that will ever have a bad enough injury for another cast... so I thought it would be a novel experience in the least. Plus, she only had to have it for two weeks, so I figured that was just enough time for her to enjoy the extra attention without the cast getting stinky and itchy. 

Elsie didn't complain once about her cast, and she only hit Camden once on purpose with it. She was pretty cute with the cast, I have to say. 

On the final day before she got it off, I did a hack paint job. It's supposed to be a candy cane. She didn't mind the sloppiness... she loved it and so did all the kids at school! 

But, I was glad to finally have it off and to not have anymore unnecessarily long doctor's appointments to look forward to. Whew. That's enough injuries for now, thank you (oh wait, I spoke too soon... more on that later...)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

November Down Time

We tried to get alot of little projects done at the first of November before the onslaught of holiday visitors, but we also took some downtime for the family too.  Here's Po at the mall's playground.

Here is when Po is somewhat angelic. 

Here is Ana opening the AWESOME AMAZING ASTOUNDING box of maternity clothes from my sister!! During the same week, my mom also sent a whole big box of size 2-4 nearly new designer clothes (she moonlights as a de-junker/anti-hoarding consultant in Orange County... I sometimes get the castoffs! Wahoo!). Of course, none of the clothes fit my largeness, but Ana ate them up. Fashionista!

Cam brought the class baby turtles home for a weekend and his little sisters were in total heaven. These wee babies were pretty cute. Reminds me of the TMNTs before the ooze. 

Ana practiced her photography skills..

Po did her best to make it through each day WITHOUT having her hair pulled back. She loathes having it brushed, but will at least let us do it. However, putting it in a ponytail requires a special dispensation. 

Ana had a garage sale, though there wasn't quite enough stuff to make it extremely profitable. She has a goal to earn at least $50 a month on her own, so sometimes she has to branch out beyond the usual lemonade stands if the weather isn't hot enough. 

We also got some skating rink time in...

And we started our Thankful Tree. 

And Elsie completed some life-size mermaid commissions. 

And I think Po played with a friend nearly every day. (It helps that one of your besties lives next door and loves blocks as much as you do...)

I complain about this cat a lot, but at the very least, he LOVES kids and toddlers. He puts up with a lot from these two... but I think he can tell that they really adore him. 

And here are some dog piles on dad...

And Ana showing off some of the designer hand-me-down PJs. And her muscles. 

And Po's version of helping. My other kids were great helpers because they really listened and wanted to receive instruction on how to do it right. Po just jumps in and thinks she knows how to do it without any instruction at all. I have to pick the least destructible chores for her to help with... BUT, at least she wants to help. I'll go with that... 

Mom and Ana Date

Here we are! Back to blogging again. Will try and get the 16 posts I have planned out in the next week... Two a day! Wahoo!

Anyway, here's Ana and I enjoying a little date to Lahaina, compliments of the money sent to me from my mother and mother-in-law. Thanks ladies! We had a great night... we went and got some Teddy's Bigger Burgers (our favorite Lahaina food), watched the amazing 'Ulalena show, and then tromped around Front Street in Lahaian, enjoying the leisure we could take without out all the other kids in tow. We ended the night with some gelato. Yum!

Ana is a great date!

She even overcame her fear of taking photos with cast members... 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Christmas! Novella

Just in case I don't have your current email, here is a non-brief Christmas Card. 

We hope for love and peace for all of you during this festive time of year 
and throughout 2014. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Great Gifts and Toys for Kids

This is a blog post you would have never expected from me, I know. I'm totally anti-consumerism and hate shopping. When I do buy something, most of the time its pre-owned. Seriously, I think 80% of all of the gifts we give our kids are from thrift shops or garage sales. I can't help it. I love thrift stores! 

But, it's nice to give a brand new, timeless gift once and awhile, isn't it? (I have to keep telling myself that...) Plus, this time of year, the second-hand pickins are slim.  

With four kids aged 2 to 12 years (and one on the way), we've gone through a lot of toys, toy fads, and kid junk. These are toys that we have loved and that have helped us to actually own less toys, be more organized, and help our kids understand that it's better to invest in something of quality that will last indefinitely. 

We've figured out that our kids enjoy their toys more if there are less of them, if they are toys that encourage creativity, learning and teamwork, and if they are visually and tactually pleasing for children AND adults. These usually don't coincide to be the most exciting presents to unwrap, though.... I think that's where the temptation to buy less meaningful or more popular toys lies. Resist!! It's only a momentary excitement!

And I used to think that those "only wood toys for my child" people were nuts, but now I get it! Wood toys are better. They really are. Ditch the plastic if you can. 

Okay, here they are:


This isn't the exact toy, but all my babies have loved the pull-and-vibrate-plush toys. Each baby has also had personal favorites (especially specific to what they loved to chew on) but every single baby has loved these toys. It's not usually something they can do themselves at first, but I'll pull the toy and then let it vibrate on their neck or hand, and they loved it. Eventually, they learn to work it themselves and it's endlessly delightful. 

This toy works for kids up to age five or six. We've had them for two years, and we love them. YES, it's plastic. But, its a bath toy, so too bad. I prefer these to stacking bath cups because they are easier to keep clean (lots of mold here in Hawaii), and I don't have to spend time figuring out which cup stacks in which. Plus, my kids like these better than stacking bath toys. They work as boats, cups, and a gentle way to pour water on baby's head. 

(since the dawn of time, every toddler has wanted a doll, a truck (well, since the invention of the wheel on that one) and/or a ball. I don't have favorites in those categories though, so no product endorsements from me. I have found that simple 12-14" dolls that have soft bodies and realistic faces are the usual favorites. Koosh balls are fun for toddlers. And simple trucks are better... we loved Hot Wheels...) Preschoolers also love dress-up, but I don't recommend buying dress up clothes brand new. Aren't dress-up clothes the whole reason thrift stores were invented in the first place?!? 

A classic toy for good reason. Kids one year to twelve will actively play with good quality wood blocks for extended periods of time. Plus, think of all the good skills they are learning! When kids come over to play, they instinctively pull the blocks out again and again. 
I strongly believe that these alphabet blocks are far superior to the many-sized blocks found in many preschools. We've owned all sorts of wood blocks and these are the only ones we have kept (with the exception of Citi Blocks, which I'll get to later), because these are the favorite again and again with all different kids who come over. I wish they came in a wooden storage box, but we just laminated (with packing tape) the cardboard box they came in and it's worked now for two years. 

As a disclaimer, I don't actually own this toy. My sister-in-law Saren owned it when she lived next store to us, and we begged to borrow it all the time. I actually bought some other ball-based toys with the same concept, but this one is still the favorite. Kids of all ages will watch these cars go down the tracks over and over and over again and experiment with different variables. Great for boys and girls. 

(Disclaimer: this toy will fade in the sun). Of all the stackers we've owned, this has been the best. Can't you just see how awesome this is? Plus, why spend nine dollars on a plastic or plush stacker when you can get this one with three for $13?! It may take awhile for your kids to learn how to stack in perfectly on their own, but they will love playing with it regardless of their adeptness. 

This is my personal favorite. I actually enjoy putting it together when it's left in a mess on the floor. (It's so much better than those old plastic sorting balls that you have to put the shapes in and then try and open the darn thing to get them out.) It teaches sorting AND balance. They learned balance and how it works on their own, then we taught them the terms (balance, fulcrum,weight, shapes). Heck yeah!

This is another great stacker toy. It's also so visually pleasing.

Really, with a doll/truck/ball and these four wooden toys, you have more than enough toys for even an active toddler/preschooler. Maybe you want some books and puzzles around too, of course. And crayons. Oh, and one more thing:

Toddlers love something to push. I didn't include a push toy on the "babies" section because I've now had two of five babies who didn't get into pushing something around (but there are some great wooden push toys out there for babies). BUT, all four have loved pushing stuff around as toddlers and preschoolers. For boys, you could do a grocery cart or a small wagon or something if they are worried about pushing a stroller... but actually, it's a good life lesson for boys to learn to push a stroller. Plus, they can use their push toy to walk around and pick stuff up for you. You can even talk them into walking through public spaces without being worried about being coddled by convincing them that they need to take care of and push their baby or stuffed animal (works for husbands too).


I will not include photos or links of LEGOS on here because you probably already know that they are incredibly awesome, although a huge mess and painful to step on in the middle of the night (a good trick-- only allow Lego play on an old sheet or table cloth. Afterwards, just gather it up and dump it back into the bin). We have lots of Legos and they are played with nearly every single day by every single kid. If we were escaping a natural disaster, I would probably take Legos with us just so the kids would be entertained as we huddled in the storm shelter.  I even have a small box of them in the car for errand down time. My advice for buying Legos is to try and find a bunch of them second hand rather than trying to build up from scratch because man, those things are expensive. Also, try and get as many minifigures as possible in what you buy-- they are the meat and potatoes of the magical Lego world. Also, don't get tricked into buying non-Lego sets. They don't work well with real Legos and are not as high quality. 

Okay. This is another toy that I don't actually own right now, but we've played with something like it for hours and hours. We had a dumb plastic version that the kids love but parts kept breaking, so it went back the thrift store this past friday. This wood version is on the Amazon Wish List...

Any net with a strong handle will do. Kids will find all sorts of uses indoor and outdoor for a good net. My preschooler uses it to carry things around and my 1st grader tries to catch insects. I won't scare you with the things my older kids have done, but just know that nothing has died. 

This is a great card game for kids from about 5-10. It's simple enough that kids can play with each without an adult supervising, but it's engaging enough that they will want to continue to play. There are many great board games out there, and I know everyone has their favorites, but this is one you may not have heard of... Plus, it doesn't take up much room or have lots of little parts. 

Okay. Another plastic toy. Sorry. But I happened to buy this at a Thrift Shop to replace our old Guess Who game with lots of missing cards and this version has solved ALL of my Guess Who? grievances, except that the faces are a little TOO cartoonish. The whole game is self contained (great for travel... no loose parts) and there are a number of different themes to choose from. My plan is to make a sheet of relatives and/or historical people for them to guess about. (Check out Pinterest for ideas).
A great game that can be played between kids of different ages. My 12-year-old is playing with my 6-year-old as I type. 

This is another toy I just happened upon second hand. They are fantastic and hold loads of interest for kids aged 3-12. Many things to build, very simple, easy to clean up. They are good quality as well. Again, I much prefer these all-one-size wooden blocks to the wooden blocks of varying shape and size. 

This is where my expertise will end, but really, anyone older than 12/13 probably just wants money or something very specific.  
Anyway, my middle school has very specific tastes because she collects model horses, so I won't get into that. She used to collect American Girl Dolls and she made loads of money reselling them when she "grew out of them" (she had bought them herself, so she got to keep the profit), so I'm just letting her roll with this next phase of toy collecting. It seems that middle schoolers do have individual tastes and interests, but here are some toys and games I would feel comfortable getting any middle schoolers AS LONG AS I was willing to spend a little time participating/using/playing with it with them to engage them in it (yes, they still need that... and really you will be giving the more important gift of time). 


Sports Equipment:

Nerf Guns (simple is better... they are plastic and will break)
Legos (still!)
Building kits (doll houses, barns, model airplanes or cars)

Well, there you have it. Beyond that, I'm a horrible gift giver. Really horrible. 
Oh, except a great gift for a college student is a popcorn maker.

I'd love to hear of other suggestions!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Elsie's Mermaids

Here are Elsie's friends:
Sophie, Elsie and Kamalei

She's been practicing  drawing  mermen.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Very Best Month

But seriously, it is. Not just because it's my birthday month. I love October! 
It's starts with the LDS General Conference... which, thanks to our Apple TV, was watching without a single technical difficulty for the first time ever. 

Elsie drew the lovely little illustration above while watching... 

The kids had a week off of school so we spent a day Lahaina side with some surfing for a few hours and then a trip to Black Rock beach for cliff jumping and pool hopping...

The girls can't go by the Sheraton face photo thing without making me take a photo. 

We had fun afternoon with friends at the pumpkin patch. 

And finished that off with sledding, Maui-style (on cardboard, down grass).

The chickens have finished molting and are back into egg laying mode full time. 

I finished this great book... it is a historical fiction murder mystery written by a guy who graduated from Harvard the year before I got there. It's all set at Harvard and in Cambridge, so I think I especially liked it. I also learned a lot about the old buildings and historical sights in Cambridge as well as about Lowell and Longfellow, who were brilliantly brought to life in the novel. I hope the library doesn't mind that it was returned "well loved". 

We sell a lot of the chicken eggs to pay for their expensive chicken feed, but we still sometimes have enough to make German pancakes, the world's easiest breakfast and the most-loved breakfast of my kids. (AKA Jackson souffle in Jonah's family)

I took the three youngest on a hike all by myself! 

Jonah's sweet Grandma Ruthie died this month, so he left for about a week to go to the funeral in Logan, Utah. Check out the photos and write up by his mom Linda (and here) or sisters Saren, Shawni, Saydi, and Charity.  Grandma had been suffering through severe demetia for a few years, but her health had been excellent. And then, after a blessing and final visit from her five kids, she just peacefully passed. She was surely glad to be with her sweetheart husband who died more than 50 years ago. Grandma was an awesome and elect lady. Jonah was really close with her, especially after living with her and by her during much of college. We lived across the road from her for a few months after we got married too. She was a delight and a supreme example of light, love, intelligence, steadfastness, and selflessness. She accomplished amazing things in life, but more importantly, she became a woman we should all want to be. Love you Grandma Ruthie!

Jonah isn't one for funerals, but I think he had a really nice time with his siblings, parents and extended family. I think it was fun for all the siblings to get together without all of us in-laws crashing the party too. This is the first funeral he's been to on his side of the family since before we were married. (My side has had like nine in the last 15 years.) I think he was really glad that he went. But, he did say it was freezing, so I think he was also glad to come home. 
(Ana loves those sunsets that happen right after swim team practice every day).

After Jonah got back, the kids had a random-teacher-inservice-day-off-of-school, so we took the back road to Lahaina since we had never gone that way. We still have loads to explore back there some day, but we did find a favorite spot... a crystal clear deep tide pool down in the lava rock shore:

It is a scary drive over there, but I think we'll have to do it again soon. Anyone want to come with?

Po loves her blocks lately. They are her favorite toy. 
She also loves spelling her name.. I think because it's so easy. 

Of course, Ana had to get in on the action. Lucky for her I didn't inlcude the photo where she had accidentally held up A-N-X. Oops. She was mad when I wouldn't take the photo and couldn't figure out why I was laughing so hard. 

And its a great month because, of course, its my birthday month!!! 

My awesome friends Amy and Malia took me to brunch (that lasted so long it became lunch too) and I had the most scrumptious baked french toast with fresh raspberries. Mmmmm. We had a good time laughing and laughing. They are such great friends.

I came home to Ana baking up a storm. I couldn't figure out why she was making 50 pieces of naan bread. She also made me brownies from scratch (we have the best recipe... easy and delicious) and cleaned up the house. I also cleaned the house a bit and laid low. 

After taking the kids to swim team, we drove home and I was looking forward to the butter chicken Jonah had promised to make (to go with the naan bread). It smelled so amazing when I walked in the door. mmmmmm.... and then SURPRISE!!! Ana had organized a surprise party with the Anderson and Akinaka families. So fun. 

I probably would have done my hair and makeup had I known we would have visitors. :)

Oh my heck! Look at that face. 

Thanks Ana and Jonah and everyone for the great birthday. I got some amazing spoil-me presents from my mom, dad and in-laws and some great presents from the family. Looking forward to another great year!