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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Saturday, April 25, 2015

In a Pinch...

So let's say it's Friday afternoon and you have a choir concert to conduct in three hours.  You needed black slacks but didn't have any so you went to Target last night at 9pm to buy some.  But let's also say you're unusually short and have to hem said slacks in the next, oh... RIGHT NOW!!!

So you measure and trim and pin  and get ready to press... and then let's say your iron is broken... and it won't heat up at all...  HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PRESS YOUR HEM???

Here's a hint:

 THAT'S RIGHT! Use your hair flat iron to press your hem!
Works like a charm! Got my pants pressed and hemmed in time for my concert :) And now you know what to do if you're short and your iron dies and you need to press your pants hem right now :) Aren't you glad you read this ridiculous post?!?!?


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Happy Whatever

It's that time again! Family camping time, that is! This weekend, Jon finally took US to a place he's been many, many times with the scouts: Pinnacles National Park!

We left after dinner (we had planned and prepared tinfoil dinners, only to have that plan foiled by fire restrictions at the park.  No fires whatsoever, only propane stoves allowed this season, so we cooked the tinfoil dinners in our oven) and arrived after dark at our site.  It was very welcoming and comforting to see our name posted on the site: 
The site was spacious, but not ideally located... we were right on the bend in the road coming into the campsite, so we got a lot of headlights late into the night.  We also decided we need to get Jade those light-up shoes for camping... she wandered away with no flashlight and ended up in the site across the road.  We could hear her, but not see her... slightly frightening, but fortunately, almost all campers are wonderful people who hold onto lost children :) So, thank you, our neighbors in site 7!

We were fortunate that Weston decided to join us on our camp out! He's always fun and helpful to have around! (Sorry we kept him so long, Myra!)

In the morning, we had a lovely relaxed breakfast (I tried to stay in bed as long as possible after a bathroom trip and several small visitors to my sleeping bag in the middle of the night...), packed up, and got ready for a day of adventure! 

But.. our day of adventure started a little too late.  It was a fee-free weekend at Pinnacles... it was a holiday, I suppose... so Happy Whatever Day it was... but the park was extra crowded because of it.  We didn't make it in time to park by the trail head, so we had to park down by the campsite and take a shuttle back in. Not so bad, really, just a little extra time to get going. 

Once we did get going, we saw some awesome things! We started at Bear Gulch cave, where bats were roosting! It was a hot day outside, but stepping into the caves was a breath of cool stagnant air...

 We passed by many beautiful cascading waterfalls along the way!

 We have some pretty awesome hiking kids!  They were happy and excited the whole way!
  Jade did her part to help the hike go smoothly:
 Since we were there the day before Xochitl's birthday, she got to choose the next activity. She decided she wanted to try rappelling! Sweet! Jon borrowed some static line, a couple figure 8's and set us up! Xochitl tried to go first, but, as anyone with rappelling experience knows, that first step and lean back over the edge can be a bit much, so it was actually Dawna who made it all the way down first:

After watching Dawna go, Xochitl decided it was ok and took her first turn... 

 ...which didn't go exactly perfectly... just after getting over the edge, one of her shoes slipped off and went bouncing down the cliff... fortunately, it didn't go over the pitch where I was belaying down below, so  it was just a matter of fetching it after the fact... still, I love this picture... one striped sock and one look of indignation...

But after that first descent, Xochitl was unstoppable! She ended up going down four more times, despite a long pokey hike back to the top.  And we tied her shoes tighter.

 Many thanks to Weston! This kind of activity is nearly impossible with four kids and only two adults... he spent a lot of time shuttling kids through the brush and herding kids on the trail and feeding hungry kids.  But we did convince him to go down once.  And even Jon and I got a chance to rappel also! 

As a bonus, we got to see a cool stick bug! That was Jade's favorite part, along with all the "bebe-biders" and "bebe-bugs" (baby spiders and lady bugs...)
You can't see everything at Pinnacles in one trip... we'll be back again for other hikes and climbs and rappels! We love being outside!

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Hurricane Jade

This week, Hurricane Jade struck the Koberstein house in full force. The storm hit landfall in the master bathroom, unraveling an entire roll of dental floss and wadding up little toilet paper balls.  She laid waste to a large glass cup, scattering debris over the entire kitchen area and causing delays in breakfast and lunch service.

The calm quiet moments in the storm only indicated that trouble was brewing farther inland... buried in the rubble was mom's smart phone with everything deleted, reset to factory defaults, and a Kindle that had purchased whatever book had an ad on display. Fortunately, officials were already on the scene when Hurricane Jade was attempting to color on the side of the van with a rock.  But trying to prevent and repair the damage only incensed the storm further...

Storm chasers found hurricane Jade all scraped up after falling off a garbage can, which she had ascended in search of the puppies over the fence.  We hoped, but hoped in vain, that that exploit would cause the violence in the storm to dissipate...

Instead, the storm traveled back towards the Koberstein household and caused tens of dollars worth of damage to the groceries, leaving naan bread, half-eaten pears, sticky sticky licked-up lollipops, and bowls of cereal or oatmeal scattered over the landscape, not to mention the flash floods that occurred when she encountered the cups of water that the older hurricanes --Ahem...-- kids were "saving for later..."

This is not a new phenomenon.  Over the past decade, four hurricanes of similar strength and power have overwhelmed the Koberstein household. You'd think we'd know how to deal with their destructive powers by now, but each hurricane seems to become more cunning and inventive than the last. (perhaps we are just getting older and tireder...)

At this point, I just want to crawl in a storm cellar and wait it out... then start rebuilding the whole place once all the hurricanes in the house are clearly past their terrible two's.  I think we got enough wheat to survive on...


Monday, April 06, 2015

Easter Sunday Fun

Easter with grandparents! Traditions, culture, and sugar. Lots of sugar. 

On Saturday night after returning from camping at Mt. Diablo, the girls went shopping to JoAnn's (for the last of the quilt fabric) and to WinCo for more candy and ingredients to make sushi! 
(I HAD to get the candy building blocks from WinCo! I love playing with them and eating them!)

After the priesthood session, we had a great sushi-making lesson from mom. 
Remember, when you make sushi, spread the rice thin, leave about an inch at the top of the seaweed, add strips of ingredients, roll carefully...
...and most importantly, remember to shout while you squish is all together! (so says Jon...) It was a delicious and educational dinner!

Easter Sunday morning dawned cool and cloudy in Antioch.  We enjoyed breakfast and the first session of conference, then we got to dye Easter eggs inside while the rain came pouring down outside! Our colorful Easter eggs did not last long this year.  They were boiled, colored, and consumed for lunch that very day.

After the second session of conference, Weston arrived and we indulged in a Koberstein Easter tradition: the Jelly Belly hunt! 

(does that say Happy Three-ster? very funny Dad...)
The Jelly Belly hunt occurs when the adults scatter/hide a truly insane amount of Jelly Bellies (like, almost an entire Costco container...) around the whole house...

Some are as easy to find as picking them up off the ground...

Some are hidden in the most ridiculously hard places, like INSIDE Lego Duplo structures, tucked under light switch covers, or high atop wall decorations...

Some Jelly Bellies don't ever make it to the bag.  Jade's mouth was constantly full of beans throughout the entire hunt...

The best part of the day was the amazing sessions of conference we got to watch and listen to.  It's exciting to look forward to seeing new temples in new places like the Ivory Coast, Haiti, and Thailand! Having conference on Easter is awesome! Hearing testimonies of Christ from such powerful witnesses adds a special spirit to the day we devote to celebrating the resurrection of our Lord! Wish it could happen every year...