Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sending them off...

I love sending all 3 boys off to school. Max to preschool (3 days a week), Noah to Kindergarten, and Karl to NAU. Then it goes something like this:

Bike up the hill and down the hill on a very busy street to Marshall Elementary School. Drop off Noah at 8:40. Bike up a really steep hill to Acorn Preschool, let Max loose, and ditch the trail-a-bike. Then Karl gets to cruise a couple of miles through downtown to NAU campus.

And I pick them back up.

This is the ideal situation, of course. However, it only happens about once a week. Most days Karl needs to be at work earlier than 9 am. 2 days a week Max stays home with me and we eventually make our way over to the gym. Not too bad either.

We figured it won't hurt the kids to bike to school in sub-freezing temperatures as long as they are dressed appropriately. Balaclavas, gloves, and goggles are the way to go. The kids don't mind at all. They are so used to it that they hardly ever ask to drive. Good thing Karl is around because I am probably the biggest wimp in the family!

Actually - the funny thing is - the more adverse the weather conditions, the more likely Noah is to want to ride his bike. The other day it had snowed some over night and there was a lot of ice on the roads. After coming home from the pool, I considered taking him to school in the car. He was not thrilled, to say the least. When Karl and I decided that he will probably be fine and gave him the ok, he threw himself on the floor in ecstasy! Funny kid...

Now that Max is mostly on the trail-a-bike, I have less heart attacks about him careening into trees or parked cars. The 'only' thing I have to worry about is him actually staying on said trail-a-bike. The other day a concerned lady pulled up next to me with her window down and informed me that Max was not actually on the bike but hanging off the side. Yikes! Maybe I should get some review mirrors...

It's been great to see how comfortable and confident Noah has gotten on the bike. I just wish our way to school was a little safer with less lights and more sidewalks. I have to bite my tongue quite often when he is hopping curbs and practicing a track stand on a busy road. Yes - I am proud of the kid. No - I do not want him to get run over. I am just trying to let him do his thing and show that I trust him. He has been quite (i.e.very) oppositional lately anyway, so if I told him to stop, he'd most likely come up with even crazier ideas. Good thing the oppositional phase is only going to last another 15+ years!

Here's to giving our kids freedom to explore their own limits!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kitchen Helpers

At the end of our visit to Utah, Grandma Janelle invited 4 girl cousins over to her house to make gingerbread houses. We are not talking a gingerbread house kit from the store. That is what I made with the boys back in Flagstaff while Karl was gone. We are talking everything-made-from-scratch gingerbread houses. On her own she had already baked the dough, cut out the different shapes, made the icing and the frosting, and glued 2 houses together. She did buy the candy at the store... When the kids came over she put on the frosting and they were decorating like crazy for hours.

Everybody was loving it! Well, I am not so sure about Janelle but I do think she enjoyed it. It is a tradition in Karl's family and he has very fond memories of making gingerbread houses, castles, and even cathedrals. So maybe 6 grandkids was a good number of little helpers since Grandma has 6 kids of her own. (Karl is the youngest.) That lady is such a great example of service, patience, kindness, and selflessness to me. Thank you, Grandma! I obviously have a long way to go when it comes to each of these attributes, but I did let the kids help in the kitchen the other day:

Yes. They are wearing their pajamas before dinner time. Anytime after 5pm they are welcome to put them on. After getting up at 5:30 a few more times lately, we have been very good about putting Max to bed around 7pm and Noah at 7:30. And - wouldntyaknowit - they have been consistently sleeping until 6:30 or 7am. Works for us!

They both really like to help in the kitchen, especially when it involves a knife of some sort. I am not a fan of little helpers in my (really little) kitchen. There is no counter space and by that time of day I am usually running low on patience. The other night though I got my act together and let them help me chop the ingredients to our spaghetti sauce. I was cutting onions next to Max and his eyes started watering. After a few minutes of trying to figure out what was wrong, he ran to get his and Noah's ski goggles. Problem solved!

When Noah came home from school today, he wanted to bake cupcakes. So we put Max in the bathtub - I can handle 1 helper much better than 2 - and went to work. I had to tweak the recipe a teeny-weeny bit:

Not enough butter? Add apple sauce.
No white flour? Use whole-wheat.
Not enough wheat flour? I am sure rye flour will work.
No orange peel? We have mandarines...
Out of almond extract? How about cinnamon.

Noah does not know any better and thought they were great. Max has had 3 this evening and Karl said he really likes them.

I have not dared to try them...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Karl's Adventures in Fiji - Part 3: Leleuvia Island

Really I came to Fiji to get pampered in a swanky resort*. The Lowrys came through by taking me to a sweet spot: Leleuvia Island.

* Ha.

The resort on Leleuvia is the only piece of infrastructure on that island, because the island is too small for anything else. You can stroll around the whole island in 20 min. We got picked up by a boat to bring us to our island.

Once we got closer to Leleuvia, the water turned a beautiful turquoise color.

Leleuvia itself was great both above the water,

and below.

As we arrived and before we even settled in, they chopped open a green coconut for us so we can take a drink of coconut water, nature's gatorade and laxative in one.  Be careful with that stuff.

The cabins were simple but worked well for us.

Hermit crabs were all over the beach. Fun little guys.

Ghost crabs were pretty common, too. You might have to do a little searching to find it here... 

The real treasures for me were underwater, though. We had lots of fun snorkeling.

These cool purple starfish were all over.

We saw one of these crown of thorns starfish. I hear they pack a poisonous sting.

Sea cucumbers are super common. They get collected by the local kids and sent to Asia, where folks eat them.  The kids seemed disgusted by the thought of eating them.

These corals made cool little plateaus with other corals on top.

Love the colors of everything.

I'm counting 6 kinds of coral all attached to each other here.

I thought this little sea slug dude looked pretty cool.

It was my first time seeing a sea snake. Way cool creature.  Its head is under the coral, working on getting some lunch.  After I took this shot, it backed out and zipped up to the surface for air.  That was when I activated my whoa!-quick-reverse reflex. 

Here's a panorama and a half of the awesome beach there.

After a very nice couple of days of chilling* on the beach, we headed back. 

* Uh, not literally.

Good times. Thanks again, Lowrys! It was great!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mushrooms a la Max


This kid is quite the character

He gave us a cookbook for Christmas
that his preschool class made. 
Each kid came up with the recipe for their favorite food. 
It is very entertaining!

There are 5 kinds of cookies, 3 recipes for pancakes, 
and 2 different pizzas.
And then there is a recipe for sauteed mushrooms
That one is by Max. 
It says: 


Cut the mushrooms up. 
Cook the mushrooms in a pan 
for 4 minutes. 
Then eat them! 

I am so proud of my little guy! 
We certainly eat our fair share of cookies and pizza
but he chose mushrooms! 
 I can't get over it! 

He did not even like them for a long time. 
 I would have them for lunch a few days a week 
but he never wanted any. 
Then one day he decided to try them 
and now I am lucky if I can snatch some away from him! 

We definitely don't eat perfectly but we try! 
I am all about eating healthy foods in front of the kids. 
Eventually they get curious and want some as well. 

We don't force them to clean their plates. 
We encourage them to eat until they are full. 
Max does not sit still for very long, 
so it is more of a challenge 
but Noah has a very good appetite

The one thing we insist on 
is that they have to give everything a try. 
They can't just look at a dish and say they don't like it. 
If they are not willing to eat at least one spoon full, 
they are excused. 

So far, so good. 
Both of them (overall) are very good eaters
Although I think they just naturally like to eat. 
Just like Karl and I. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Part of the Jarvis Clan

A few of the cousins after Thanksgiving dinner

The best part of visiting Utah is being with family. The weather during our last trip was a big disappointment and, if it had not been for our great family, I would've been ready to leave after just a couple of days. Since I never posted the few pictures I took during our Thanksgiving trip, I will post those as well. No worries, there are not very many. I am generally a bad picture-taker while in Utah. There is just too much fun stuff going on... Ok. Let's face it, I am just bad at taking pictures in general. Oh well. 

The boys love 'helping' Grandpa in the yard, especially when it involves leaves and a cart. Anybody want a ride?

We do! We do! 

Getting dumped...

Unfortunately, only 2 of Karl's siblings are living in Utah right now. Fortunately, both of them are in Provo and there are still plenty (12) of cousins to play with. The closest in age to Noah and Max are the triplets: Emmy, Zoe, and Callie:

We love spending time with cousin Spencer who can play great songs on his guitar and loves to come up with his own songs. The boys think it's great!

He also makes an excellent punching bag...

... and story teller. Thank you, Spencer, for spending time with us!

Back home in Flagstaff our Christmas tree looks like this:

We have had our lovely Norfolk Pine for years now and Karl and I think it's a great idea: cheap, small, environmentally friendly. The boys, however, wanted a 'real' Christmas tree this year. Luckily, when we came to Grandma and Grandpa's house, they had a beautiful large lovely-smelling fir tree in the music room ready to be decorated by the boys. They went straight to work:

One of my favorite traditions is singing Christmas (and other) songs by the tree with Grandpa on the guitar and/or Grandma on the piano.

Christmas was wonderful. The boys slept until 7:30, we opened a couple of presents, had breakfast, went to church, opened more presents, built and played, and had a very nice family dinner at Aunt Lena's house. We are very blessed!

Building the new Playmobil fire station:

Max got tired of building and decided to test out the new fire boat

I love my boys!