Saturday, June 27, 2015

Play Ball?

We learned this morning that "Will you play ball with me?" has different interpretations:

If you're a brother, this is what playing ball means:
But if you're a sister, this is what playing ball means: 
And these Ball Games can be catastrophic when they collide...
Especially if you're in an evening gown.

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Black and White for a Nine year old!

 I'm getting pretty good at making awesome birthday parties. Dawna presented me with my biggest party challenge yet: "Mom, I want a Black and White party!" What?? I mean, what does that even mean??  Well, Dawna and I found out...

We had a pretty short time to put it all together. Sunday night, we created invitations for a Friday morning party:

I googled around and visited Party City and had a fun time getting everything ready... and here's what we came up with for our Black and White Party...
Dawna decorated the white board and we also got black and white lanterns, streamers, and swirly hanging things to decorate the front room. 
We got goody bags with black and white magnets, a soccer bouncy ball, and black and white gumballs, lollipops, and chocolate coins (from Party City's big colorful bins).
 As the party guests arrived, I traced their shadows and had them cut out their own silhouette and add descriptive words or their name with white letter stickers.
 I think they turned out super cute! We also had out chess and Panda Darake (two games with black and white pieces) to fill the time between organized activities.
I found a Jeopardy template for Google Slides and created a  Black and White Jeopardy Game, which you can play along with if you like :) I was really impressed with how well the kids were able to "answer in the form of a question" even though they all claim they've never even heard of Jeopardy... looks like grammar class is paying off... We also played a variation of Headbanz with black and white animals.
 This last-minute game idea turned out to be a hit... I had bought two packs of black and white crystals and scattered them all over the carpet...
The kids had two minutes to pick up as many crystals as they could with just their toes. The black team won 48-39 crystals. Afterwards, each of the kids got to take some crystals home.

 Snack time featured black and white delicacies of all kinds: blackberries and black cherries, cauliflower, mushrooms, mini Oreos, coconut chips, olives, marshmallows, and raisins.
 Dawna's "cake" ... or rather, goblet of ice cream with Oreos on top.
"Happy Birthday, dear Dawna!"
And that is how you make a great black and white party in five days' time! 
 I'd do it again in a second for you, Dawna darling! (actually, I'll probably do it again in about a year...) In any case, it was an awesome party!

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Saturday, June 06, 2015

Eight to Midnight

Eight o'clock is bed time for the kids.  Eight to midnight is my time. The time to learn something new, the time to watch Netflix, or the time to take on an insanely large project.

These past two months, my eight to midnight has been a mission quilt for my wonderful in-laws who just returned from their mission in Japan. Jon's mom has/had a tradition of making a quilt for her missionary kids after they returned from their missions.  Jon's quilt is incredible. It includes a tie from each of his companions crafted into a block, an applique map of Mexico and the quilting surrounding it continuing the map with waves for the ocean and grid for the land, and embroidered names of each companion and the area which he served with that companion. It is exquisite.

Then one day it dawned on me: Who will make a mission quilt for mom and dad? Of course! I would! Why did I think I could accomplish such a feat? I dunno... it seemed like a good idea at the time.

So the next day, I searched Google images for "Japanese quilt," "Japanese symbols," and "Japan fonts." Then I drew a picture.  This is the picture:

It was just on the back of a piece of scratch paper.  That's how these things start, I guess.  With an idea on a piece of scratch paper.

And so it began. I shopped, I snipped, I sewed...

One Patch at a time... 
I decided to use applique since I don't have much/any experience with complicated piecing. I cut out each shape, starting with the largest piece and adding each smaller piece on top with fusible webbing. I used several different kinds. For the larger pieces of fabric, it was easiest to use the "one sticky side" style and for the small stuff, like the Japan letters and cherry blossoms, the double sided sticky webbing was the easiest--it made the fabric stiff and easy to get little details out of it, like the hole in the A's and P.

I had some trouble deciding what to put in the middle patch... so it was the very last one I made...
When I got the entire top pieced, I thought I was almost done... HA! Anyone who's hand quilted a king-sized quilt knows that piecing the top is just the beginning... then comes the framing and the HOURS UPON HOURS (for me and my slow quilting, anyway) of following the lines along the quilt.
My frames weren't big enough to do the whole quilt at once, so I framed and quilted the top third and middle, then re-framed to reach the other side
There's a delicate balance in quilting... the more lines you follow, the more details you quilt in, the more beautiful and intricate the quilt looks...BUT... the more lines and details, the more time you spend quilting. Mine was not the most detailed quilt, but I did like some of the small details I added, like the ribs on the fan and the criss-crosses between the patches. 
Mom Koberstein came and helped quilt a couple days, but a lot of quilting days looked like this by dinnertime: kid hurricane happened unobstructed... 

Coming down the home stretch! After completing the quilting at 1am on May 28, It was time to bind! On the denim quilts I've made, I used the backing folded over the top to bind the quilt, but I wanted to use binding tape for this one. I like the way it adds one little splash of color around the edges of the quilt.

 And then finally! On June 4 at 4:15pm, at Bay Aerials Gymnastics, I finished the quilt! The manager there came and asked what I was doing...turned out to be a little missionary moment of my own.
 Larry took pictures documenting the occasion.
At home on the floor all finished... 

And Modeling it on our bed!
 Close-up on the center patch...

 Close-up on one of my favorite details (which I fought hard against for a long time, but at long last, Jon was right about the cherry blossoms... I love them!)
And thus the Japan mission quilt was completed and presented to Elder and Sister Koberstein in remembrance of their excellent service in Japan!

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Mom's Day Out!

Happy Mother's Day to me!
I know, it might seem late, but actually Jon planned his Mother's Day gift to me this weekend.  This year for Mother's Day, Jon gave me a wonderful gift: up to 72 hours all to myself! No kids, no cleaning, no cooking! So, Friday afternoon at 5pm, Jon packed up the van and took all the kids camping to Big Basin...

...and just like that, the house was empty.  Empty and quiet. I had nothing to do. Nothing at all... nobody asking for a drink or an apple or telling me about something smelly in their pants...

What to do, what to do?

So just how does a mom with no kids have fun? It took me a minute, but I think I figured it out...

Step 1: Try on clothes! I know it sounds a little silly, but really, being able to just try on clothes without anybody whining in the dressing room or outside the dressing room or saying, "Can we go now?" is just what a mom needs sometimes.  I went to RoadRunner to try on running clothes and I got to just leisurely try things, look in the mirror, weigh my options, and make my selection...  Ahhh....

Step 2: Grab a girlfriend for a night on the town!! Brooke was such a good sport about hanging out with me on Friday night!  We went out to see The Avengers (I know, not what you would expect from a girl's night out, but I really wanted to see it and Jon had already seen it twice without me!) and Brooke reserved a couple of those recliner couch luxury seats at the theater in Mountain View.  We ate a GIANT tub of buttery delicious popcorn and Brooke taught me how to take a selfie at the movie theater after the show.

(yeah, so it's a little blurry... whatever...)

Step 3: Stay out ridiculously late window shopping and eating out in downtown Mountain View! We had a great time perusing a store called "Therapy" with all kinds of fun stuff to look at, including rings made from old typewriter keys, way overpriced throw pillows, a picture book called "Crap Taxidermy," and of course, a sriracha sippy cup! After a lot of good laughs and thoughtful pauses, we continued on to the Crepevine for an almost midnight meal and more selfie lessons :)
Step 4: Sleep in!

Step 5: Go for a run! Not early, but still in the morning on Saturday, I headed over to Coyote Hills for my six mile run in my new running clothes! So relaxing and fun to just wander the trails and explore the ins and outs of a place. I may be close to admitting that running might be a little bit fun... just a little...

Step 6: Go the the temple! After a night of indulgence and a good morning workout, the next thing I needed was a good spiritual feeding. The temple never disappoints. And though this is one place that is better when enjoyed with your eternal companion, it's great on your own too. I got to do some initiatories and daughter sealings. Also, I ate lunch in the cafeteria! It's one of those little things that I'd never gotten to do before, so silly as it was, it was a big moment for me! Seeing part of the temple I've never seen before! And as you can see from the picture, I  need to invite Brooke back for a few more selfie lessons (what is that face saying??).
 Step 7: Get a good pampering! After a lovely temple day, I went straight to Massage Envy Spa for a deep tissue massage. It was lovely. It was relaxing, and it was just what I needed before returning from my Mom's Day Out! After those seven steps, I was ready to jump back in to life feeling refreshed, relaxed, invigorated, and inspired! And I was really starting to miss my kids and my husband, which brings us to the final phase of Mom's Day Out...

Step 8: Cuddle up on the couch with your favorite people, big and small! One curly-headed toddler, one sassy kindergartner, one sweet miniature gentleman, one tall blonde beauty, and best of all, one loving good-looking guy as always, right by my side.

Happy Mother's Day to me! Yeah, I know, I've got it good!

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Thursday, June 04, 2015

Trivial Question

What do all these things have in common?

Figured it out yet? Take a guess...
Answer: All of these things are called "lemon" (occasionally "lemonly") in JadeSpeak 2015 :)

(Though as she approaches her second birthday, she's begun to differentiate. I'm seizing the moment today to record the adorableness...)

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Daddy was gone on a business trip.  All were sad and lonesome at the prospect of three days without him. Dawna wanted to cheer us all up and went to work... she wanted to create...

The Best Family Home Evening EVER!!!

She schemed. She planed. She collected costumes. She designed props. And then the moment arrived... 7pm on Monday night was go time! 

We started like a normal FHE: Singing "When the Family Gets Together," and each kid taking a turn choosing a primary song, Larry led us in an Article of Faith, and then Dawna took the floor with her lesson. 

First, she assigned out the parts: Larry was to play Joseph Smith, Xochitl was to play the Angel Moroni, I got to be Oliver Cowdery, Dawna was the publisher, and Jade was... just Jade.

 Act I, Scene 1: Joseph Smith goes to the Hill Cumorrah to see the plates for the first time.  He unburies them and is shown that something else is hidden with the plates: the Urim and Thummin!

 Act I, Scene 2: After returning several times to see the plates and be instructed by Moroni, Joseph finally gets to take them home and begin translating!

Act II, Scene 1: Oliver Cowdery writes down what Joseph Translated from the Golden Plates (this moment was not pictured, but just imagine the Model Magic Golden Plates stamped with our Egyptian hieroglyphs set; Larry and Xochitl using the "translator" wheel to find the corresponding English letter, and then mom writing that letter down). In the end, we translated "He sent His Son to die for us" from the Golden Plates!
Act II, Scene 2: Dawna took the notes from our "translation" and put them into a book, complete with copyright seal on the inside and staples on the spine!
Act III, Scene 1: Mom, Jade, and Dawna see and touch the Golden Plates and the Angel Moroni and become the Three Witnesses! (Xochitl is displaying the "Urim and Thummin)
Act III, Scene 2: Joseph Smith returns the plates to Moroni and buries them along with the Urim and Thummin once more...

Truly is was the Best Family Home Evening Ever!!! I just got to sit back and enjoy the wonderful lesson and all the kids were happy participants!

Even better than props and costumes, though, was seeing Dawna bear her testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith.  In spite of having such an imperfect mom, that girl has grown a strong testimony of the gospel! She is AMAZING in every way!

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

On Broadway!

Friday was our piano recital! This year's recital theme was "Name that Broadway Musical and Tune!" The recital audience all got programs with only the student's names on them. Then, as they listened to the song, they had to try to name that tune and musical before the song was over and the student announced the answer! I always really enjoy watching the audience at these kinds of recitals.  Generally, there's a moment of confusion and intensity as the student plays an introduction, then it's as though a epiphanic light bulb goes on and everyone scribbles down the answer as they recognize the tune! (I may have made up that word...epiphanic... epiphany-like... get it? Well, hey! I can make a noun into an adjective anytime I want! It's English!)

See if you can guess what Larry and Dawna played before they get to the end and announce it in their speech!

 I'll bet it was easy to tell what they were playing right away!

After the recital, as per tradition, we enjoyed ice cream sundaes and each student got to take home a silver or black star balloon with their name and piece on it!
Larry and Dawna both did an excellent job practicing and memorizing and performing! I love so much seeing my kids' musical talents improve!

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Sunday, May 03, 2015

Put the ART back in PARTY!

My little Xochitl is FIVE! Crazy, right? I thought I felt old when my first kid was starting kindergarten... I feel three times older now that my THIRD kid is starting kindergarten! Yikes!

But kids growing up has its perks... for example, now I can do super awesome birthday parties!  This year, Xochitl had so many different ideas about her birthday that I just picked the one I thought would be most fun and ran with it!

The kids arrived and straightaway went to work! Every artist needs a good apron, so each kid chose the color they wanted and drew/stenciled their name and anything else they wanted on it:
 The silver sharpie worked well on all the colors of the aprons. These aprons were a lot of fun for the kids to decorate and wear! 
After finishing the aprons, the kids made a colorful sweet necklace of Froot Loops!

Our pARTy fun begins!!!

Once all were decked out with aprons and necklaces, we were on our our biggest project: Painters tape shape mosaics!

In this art project, you get a canvas and put painters tape of varying widths and sizes all the way across and wrap the tape around the back.   Press all the tape down very firmly! Then choose a color for each section of the canvas and paint every bit! 
 The coolest thing about this project is that any pattern, any tape design, any color selection is unique and cool!
When the paint dries, you remove the painters tape and viola! A beautiful shape mosaic! Sadly, I didn't get pictures of all of the finished products, but here's the ones my kids made:
(Dawna was an amazing helper for this project! She helped the kids paint and mixed new colors for them and got paintbrushes and made sure all the white space was covered!  After the party was over, she finally sat down and made her own!)

While we waited for our mosaics to dry, we headed outside to create some Pop-It art :) Earlier that day, I blew up some eighty-something water balloons with about a teaspoon of paint and water mixed (it was quite an adventure preparing this activity.  I used condiment bottles with the skinny top to fill them...and I accidentally popped a couple in my face... whoops...anyway...). 

 We taped the little balloons with paint onto two big posters...
 ... and sang "Pop Goes the Weasel" while passing around a skewer...
 ...and when it got to "Pop!" whoever was holding the skewer got to pop a balloon! --
 creating two beautiful pieces of modern splatter art! ---not to mention ten adorably splattered kids!

Bespeckled from head to toe with paint!  But look at the awesome art we created!

After all that fun, we had a baby wipe wash down before heading inside for some snacks! I overlooked one small problem: the large mosaics were drying on the table... so we didn't have a place to sit and eat... so out came a big blanket and we enjoyed birthday cupcakes and rainbow goldfish and veggie and fruit rainbows picnic style:
And for one last sweet activity, we created art palette cookies!
...which the kids didn't have time to eat, so they were the take-home treat! I also had model magic clay (but we ran out of time for that activity) and set out other "filler" activities like sidewalk chalk and our white board easel since all the kids finished their projects at different times (which worked great for keeping everyone entertained and happy...).

All in all, it was a great birthday party! One of my favorites! Partly because I love doing little art projects, but rarely take the time to do so unless there's a purpose... I was having at least as much fun as the kids! 

Jade was a good sport and slept through almost the whole party... but woke in time for some snacks and to score her own special box of crayons, which she was very proud of!
WHEW! And that, my friends, is how we put the ART back in pARTy! Hope you feel artistically inspired :) Thanks for turning five, Xochitl love, so I could make this party! 

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