Monday, April 30, 2012

A Perfect Weekend

It's a very rare day when you don't see a kid or two hanging off me. A couple weekends ago, I got a little gift from my husband in the form of a free-weekend (kid-free, that is) to my hometown in St. Louis. Just an airplane ride with no one but myself to entertain is a small gift. A read a book and a half on my way home. My sister Susannah arrived (sans kids as well) at the same time.

We slept in, shopped, ate out, talked, walked. Mom, Susannah and I even bought scarves (not exactly matching, but close) to remember the weekend. We spent some special time Friday evening at the temple with Betsy and Micah as well. We had ice cream and hung out with Micah and his wife Karma afterwards. (Thanks for taking the awesome picture, Karma!)

On Saturday, we spent most of the day at the Columbia Illinois library for the a Local Author's Fair, which is the real reason why I came to town. Susannah and mom were so supportive and invited pretty much everyone they knew. It always makes me a little nervous to market myself in the form of my book and having them by my side makes me feel much more brave. =)

Several of my good friends from high school came too. It was so nice to catch up with Sara, Hilary, and Jamie.

I got to talk with the other authors. Some people I went to high school with (even my own high-school principal) had written books as well. I saw some teachers of mine I hadn't seen in years. I did a couple book swaps with other authors. The cute old guy at the table next to me took a little nap in the middle of the author's fair. Fair enough, I'm pretty sure he's in his eighties.

So I may have given away more books than I actually sold. Like I said, I'm no good at marketing my book. I'd rather have people reading it than not. =)

After the author's fair, mom had a gathering at her house. We had Imo's pizza and Aunt Sally made her famous chocolate pie. Then after we were all full to bursting, we walked to the cemetery to visit Dad.

We hung out, talked, and ate the night away.

It was a short weekend. The next morning, we were up at 4:30 am to head back to the airport. This weekend really was a gift. A little piece of heaven I'll not forget.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Portia's Five!

I kept putting it off. We didn't have a party on Portia's first birthday, or her second, or third or fourth. I'm embarrassed to admit that this year--at five--was the first birthday party Portia's had in her entire short life. But since we waited so long, I decided I'd make it a good one.

I let Portia choose where we'd have the party, and she decided on an aquarium party at the Living Planet Aquarium in Sandy. We decided to call it a sea turtle party. Since I was paying for a pretty large party as the minimum size, we decided to go all out and invited most of the kids from Portia's preschool. Plus a couple good friends from the neighborhood.

The day before, I slaved over these sea turtle cupcakes I found on pinterest. They're not perfect but  really turned out cute, if I do say so myself.

I've never seen Portia so excited in my life. She just couldn't get enough--running around (thank goodness the party was in the sunken ship at the aquarium and not at my house); ready for more and more candy and treats; ready for present after present.

Portia and Naomi

Portia and Aowyn

Portia and Rowan

Portia and Addy

Portia and Jenny

Portia and Savanna

Portia and Ava

Portia and Emily

Portia and Gloria

Portia and Isaac

Portia and Xander

The aquarium hostesses took the kids on a scavenger hunt around the aquarium so they could see the sea turtle, sharks, sting rays, penguins, and otters. Here's Portia with some of her friends:

Happy Fifth Birthday, Portia!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

School Days

As Bianca's gotten older, her classroom really focuses a lot on project-based learning. It's everything from learning how to write a compelling history fair project to using research to learn both sides of an argument, in order to debate and retaliate an opponent's argument. At the same time, it seems like since they're in the learning-stages, there's not a lot of follow-through.

In history fair, Bianca made it to the Regionals and got third place. She would have gone to State if she had been a sixth grader, but she's not. So it ended there. A lot of work for what seems like a dead-end.

For debate, everyone had to argue the same confict--Should the state of Utah give incentives for people to buy local produce? Bianca's team was assigned to the affirmative side. On the first night, Bianca and her partner Maren did a pretty well, although Bianca didn't really get the point of the rebuttal on the first round. We had a nice little talk after that and on the next round, she had a much better idea of what her job was. They argued against the other teams in their class as well as teams in the sixth-grade ALPS class. Bianca and her partner were selected to go on to District.

Over the weekend, Bianca had an intensive session with Eric (who was really into debate long, long ago) about how to do rebuttals. At District, Bianca was prepared with all sorts of ammunition. She knew she was prepared and was very confident. They had three rounds, all of which they competed against sixth-grade boys from Jordan Ridge (the other ALPS school in the area). Bianca and Maren were awesome. They couldn't move on to the next level though, as they were fifth-graders. Turns out, they won all three debates. They would have definitely gone on, if they had been allowed. I don't see what the harm is. If they can hold their own with the big boys, why shouldn't they be allowed to move on? A little disappointing, I know, but at least they got their feet wet.

A not-so-typical night at the Symphony

Last night, Eric, Bianca and I went to the Utah Symphony to hear the music of John Williams (and the music that inspired John Williams). It was pretty cool to hear the music of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Harry Potter music performed. They even had "characters" out in the lobby during intermission.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Easter 2012

This is the first holiday since my kids were born that I didn't put up decorations. When your house is on the market, you have to keep clutter down to a minimum. The Easter decorations stayed in their box. In fact, that makes it easier to transport it over to the new house. Thank goodness these plastic Easter baskets were still in the pantry or I don't even think we would have had Easter baskets to hold the goodies on Easter morning.

Since we'd pretty much been on a complete spending halt for the last several months and the fact that we're having to pay mortgages on two houses, I'm glad I had the foresight last May when we were in England to pick up these matching dresses for the girls. They turned out perfect for Easter.

Portia looking particularly impish
Bianca added her own touch (the scarf) so as to not be too matchy
This spring has been wonderfully spring-ish so the Easter egg hunting was just as it should be for Easter (which I can honestly say that it usually isn't).