Saturday, February 27, 2010

new couches

After much searching, we finally found the leather couches we've always wanted. We loved our old comfy couch, but it just wasn't enough seating for our family of 7. Granted 5 of the 7 have very little bums, but it was tight, especially for family home evening and scripture study. So we got 2 full size couches, and now we are set. The day we got them Dave went over the new couch rules with the boys - no climbing on the back, no sharp objects, no food, etc. The very next day he found 2 thumb tacks on one of the couches. Grrrr.

When they first delivered them I was a tad stressed. They were so dark (it was hard to imagine what they'd look like from a 2" color sample), and they seemed heavy in the otherwise light room. But after a day or two of adjusting, I love them. I love the smell of leather, the soft feel, the contemporary look. I have spent less time on the computer because I'd much rather sit on my couches while nursing. Now we just have to decide on an arrangement. I like having them across from each other - it looks so beautiful in the room and is great for conversation. But Dave likes them in an L-shape facing the T.V., because otherwise one couch has its back to the T.V. and there's no room to play the Wii. I see his point, but I'm just not liking it as much. I say we get rid of the T.V. and just sit on our couches and look at each other.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


We had an amazing trip to the snow this week. It's become an annual tradition to go to Shaver Lake for President's Day, since Dave's off work and of course the kids are off school. They look forward to this all year. Tyler and Dallin made the snowman this year. They came prepared to make a beach snowman, complete with sun hat, sunglasses and sand bucket. As well as a carrot nose and black rocks for eyes and mouth, of course.We like to stay in one of the cute rustic cabins at Shaver Lake Village Hotel, which is about 3 hours away. We love it because it's private, cozy and inexpensive; plus it has a huge sledding hill literally right behind it. It works out great because Dave and the boys can spend as much time as they want out in the snow while I come and go, putting the youngest down for naps in the cabin, making hot chocolate, taking pictures, preparing food, etc.

Brennan liked the snow TONS better this year. He went fast down that hill with Dave and loved it. Three seems to be the age when my kids start liking the snow.

He stayed outside a really long time, too. Of course it helped that it really wasn't that cold.

Spencer spent most of the time snowboarding, which he picked up pretty quick.
Dave likes playing in the snow just as much as the boys do. They're such a nice excuse for him to be a kid again.
Then we did something new this year - I talked Dave into taking the boys skiing! I mentioned it to him the night before we left, and he said he thought it would be too hard. He'd have to help the 3 oldest while I would be stuck with the 2 youngest all day. Then I reminded him that they could take lessons, and I assured him I'd be fine hanging out with Brennan and Levi (and taking pictures, of course). So we surprised the boys Tuesday morning and told them our plans. They were SO excited. We went to Sierra Summit, which is just 20 minutes away from the hotel.

I was really impressed with how much focus this place put on learning to ski. Here's the "moving carpet" that the boys first started out on. The lessons were very reasonably priced in a package deal that included ski rentals and lift ticket. I thought their teachers were excellent.

Spencer chose snowboarding. He didn't think he needed lessons, but we signed him up anyways. That way Dave could do some real skiing on his own first.
Tyler and Dallin were SO STINKIN' CUTE in their little skis, and they literally picked it right up. They were laughing and having a great time - unlike when I learned to ski as a teenager. I thought it was so hard, and I really didn't enjoy it. That's why I wanted my kids to learn at a younger age.

After their two-hour lesson, Tyler and Dallin spent the rest of the day on the bunny slope while Spencer went down the intermediate slopes with Dave. Fun was had by all.

The weather was incredibly warm and sunny - we all shed our coats as soon as we got there and Dave skied in a t-shirt. That was nice, because the little boys and I were comfortable just hanging out and watching the big boys. Occasionally we'd go into the heated lounge, where they had comfy couches, TVs and snacks. Brennan really wished he was skiing too, but the lessons didn't start until age 4; maybe next year. But he still had fun playing around in the snow. Levi did extremely well, although I basically just held him the whole time, and my arm was pretty sore the next day. Definitely a successful trip.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sweet Valentine's Day

We've had a lovely Valentine's Day weekend. The boys insisted on making their valentines for school, so we started making them a week early, knowing it could take awhile. Sometimes I'm really on top of it, which is good because when I wait until the last minute (which is more common) I get totally stressed out. It's a good thing we did them early because I was extremely sick on Thursday. Anyway, we made these fun little dog valentines with Airhead tongues and the words "I'm mutts about you" on the back. We got the idea from Family Fun a few years ago.
Spencer's class had a Valentine's mailbox contest, and he came up with this robot idea and made it all by himself. His teacher especially wanted them to used recycled objects from around the house. He won first place!

I decided I wanted to get together with the cousins Friday for our own little Valentine's party, since all the big boys had theirs that day. It was simple but fun. First they decorated their bags with heart stickers and crayons. Here is Luke eating the crayons.

Then they exchanged Valentines. Brennan got a cut above his eye from running into the piano a couple days ago. If this kid can get through childhood with his eyes intact, we'll be in good shape. He still has that huge purple blood blister on his eyelid from an encounter with a pencil 2 years ago.
Then they decorated heart-shaped sugar cookies.

And ate them, of course. Friday night Dave and I went out to dinner at our favorite French restaurant. It's pricey, so we don't go there often; but we love it. We decided to get 4 appetizers and a dessert instead of meals, which was a great way to sample lots of different things.

Saturday morning I made heart-shaped pancakes. First I made regular pancakes; then I used my heart-shaped cookie cutter. Aren't they just adorable? The kids loved them.

Holidays are all about the food, so here is the scrumptious Valentine's dinner we had tonight: grilled steak and asparagus with onions and mushrooms, roasted potatoes and fried apples. Not the healthiest meal, but oh-so-good!

After dinner we exchanged cards, chocolates and gifts.

Then for dessert I made Chocolate Lava Cakes. I have always wanted to make these, and this particular recipe looked nice and simple.

Yum!!! Oh my goodness, these were amazing. I suggest you don't wait until next Valentine's Day to try them out.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Some lessons are hard to learn. And expensive.

The past couple of days have been rough for me. But I guess I've learned a lot. It all started when Spencer asked me to videotape his class play about geology, since Dave couldn't be there. No problem, I thought. But I knew the memory card for my camcorder was almost full, so I spent several hours the morning of the play trying to download some of the video to my computer. I had 5 hours on my internal memory, but I'd never been able to download it because my computer's CD Rom doesn't work and I couldn't install the software to read the video. I'd recently started taping on a memory card, but it was almost full too. So I deleted some videos from my internal memory - mostly mistakes from when the camera was accidentally left on. This freed up plenty of space for the play, but then I had to switch from recording onto the memory card to the internal memory. I was frantically trying everything I could (it was almost time for the play to begin and I didn't know where the owner's manual was), and I pushed a button that I thought was switching to internal memory when in fact I was reformatting the internal memory, completing wiping out 5 hours of video spanning the last 9 months of our life. This includes vacations, the family reunion, Christmas and most importantly Levi's birth and first four months of life. I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach and I freaked out. I tried not to think about it because every time I did I got mad at myself. I'd think of specific scenes I'd lost and feel bad that I could never see them. I talked to Kristen, who said she recently learned in her camera class that things that are deleted aren't gone, they're just inaccessible until they've been recorded over. I called the camera store, and they said they only did cameras, not camcorders. I spent hours on google, called camera and computer stores, and they all said the same thing - they didn't have the ability to retrieve it, or it was impossible and no one could do it. Ellen said if there's one thing she's learned watching crime detective shows it's that things are never gone. Some forensics lab somewhere could recover it. Christopher suggested I ask the police. I called Best Buy this morning and the Greek Squad guy told me it was gone forever and that it was impossible to recover it. I broke down and cried some more. Then I pulled myself together and continued my search. Finally I called some data recovery companies who said it might be possible. I'd have to mail my camcorder to them where they would have to open it up in a special clean room. They wouldn't charge me unless they were able to recover my data. But here's the thing - it's extremely expensive! I was thinking it'd be around $200. One place in Canada charges $450. One back East was $600. And one in Wisconsin was between $300-$400; he was the most helpful. He knew exactly what I'd done and what would be involved to retrieve it, citing an 80% chance of recovery. I got excited at the idea that it was even possible, but discouraged by the price. Dave thinks it's way too expensive and we don't ever look at our videos anyway. So I guess I will just keep it on there, never taping over it in case I can retrieve it some day.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

We've been to the zoo, zoo, zoo...

Dave had a meeting in Santa Barbara last Saturday night (during an EFY dance), so we decided to make a family day of it and go to the zoo.

We spent a long time watching the gorillas. They always put on a good show.

Why is there such a huge difference in head size with this camera? I mean I know Dallin has a slightly larger head that Tyler, and he's a little closer to the camera, but come on. I think it might be the wide-angle lens that does it.It seems simple enough, but the boys LOVED sliding down this AstroTurf hill on cardboard in the play area. They did this for the longest time.
I told them now we don't need to go to the snow this year.
The kids were so determined to ride this silly train. But when we first got there the line for it was super long, so we decided to look at some animals first. They kept asking and asking when we were going to ride the train, until finally I just wanted to get it over with so we could enjoy the rest of our visit. I waited in the 40 minute line and called them when I was close.
Levi did great all day. He pretty much slept in the stroller the whole time, except when we took him out to go on the train.

I love how this elephant looks like it's just kickin' back with its foot up. They are such funny animals.
As we were leaving we kept passing workers who were putting the birds away for the night. It was a fun, relaxing day. After dinner I drove the boys home while Dave stayed for the meeting - then he drove a bunch of youth home in Kristen's 15 passenger van, getting in around 12:30. Thank goodness for Sunday afternoon naps.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pinewood Derby

Well we survived another Pinewood Derby. We all especially liked Sean's popcorn car. Brennan couldn't get over it. He kept saying, "The car has popcorn on it!" and eating the ones that fell off after a few races.
Spencer's car did very well this year, coming in 4th place (although after the winners were announced he raced the 3rd place winner, his cousin Jacob, and won). But at least he got a box of candy. So he had a fun time and felt good about his car's performance. These things totally stress me out! Then I just sit there feeling bad for my wolves with their disappointed little faces when they lose.
Spencer won an award for funniest car, which was odd because he was going more for cool or scary. We thought the popcorn car was funny, but it won a different category.

Next year we'll have two cars in the race. Tyler is already drawing up his design.