Sunday, May 24, 2015

Weekly Digest, May 24, 2015

On  Thursday Whitney gave birth to our new niece Gwen!  We're so excited to go and meet her as soon as the sickness is all gone from our family!

Last night we had our friends Joe and Celeste Butler over for dinner.  I'm kinda bummed we didn't take any pictures of the families but I did take a picture of Elinor playing with their son Johnny.  The kids all had a great time together - Elinor adored Johnny.

This week Maxine made chocolate-dipped macaroons and 1/4 pound chocolate chip mint cookies.  To say they were delicious just doesn't do them justice.

Elinor is a goon.  Or a gollum.  Isn't she precious?

Leftover chocolate icing!

Today we drove up to Alpine looking for a place to hike.  We happened upon a trail head at the bottom of the canyon behind Alpine.  This has been our favorite hike to date.  It felt like we had the entire canyon to ourselves - we only saw one other person on our way back down.  The trail branched off in many directions so we got to choose our own adventure.  And the weather was perfect - cloudy and slightly cool.  We chose to follow the sound of water and ended up by a river.  The kids were delighting in all the bits of nature to be found along the way: cicadas, snail shells galore (some occupied, some empty), moss-covered rocks and trees, giant ants...
The boys found a bunch of great rocks for their collection.
Of course, no family hike would be complete without snacks and throwing rocks in a river.  :)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Weekly Digest, May 17, 2015

Maxine already posted about Sammy's birthday yesterday but there are a few more pics and videos to share.

Elinor has recently discovered that she's just big enough to ride the big wheel.  It's been amusing watching Isaac and Ellie attempt to share it.  Mostly Ellie hogs it while Isaac pines for it.  :)

Maxine made Sammy this countdown calendar back in April and each night before bed he's been crossing off a day and excitedly announcing how many days were left.

Maxine's baking mania continues.  She spent most of the week tweaking a new banana bread recipe to perfection.  This one has ground up hazelnuts and chocolate chips and is absolutely by far the best banana bread any of us has ever tried.  Each time she made it the neighbors quickly bought up whatever they could.  Plus her brownies were fantastic (of course).  Three kinds of chocolate, including Callebaut and Scharffen Berger.  Insane.

Earlier this week I saw Sammy helping Maxine out in the garden.  It was a really cute moment.

Also, Sammy's eye-crossing skills continue to improve.  He's now able to cross only one eye.

With the rainy weekend Sammy didn't get a chance to try out his bike until today.  He learned to ride with a balance bike so his first time on this bike was smooth sailing.  He and Isaac spent a good hour circling the cul de sac at top speed.

Some more fun pics from Sammy's Birthday:

Here are some fun videos from this week:

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Samuel turns 5!

Happy birthday to my goofy, cuddly, intelligent Sammy, who five years ago came barreling into this world at break-neck speed, ready to take on life and all its challenges with an unflappable attitude and a rascally grin. His middle name is Toa, Maori for "warrior" (he was supposed to be born in New Zealand), and I can't think of a more fitting name. We love you, SimSam!
Per our tradition, Sammy decorated his chocolate cake himself: a rocket ship on top and a truck below.
He's been planning his birthday since the day after his last birthday.  No joke, I can't actually count how many times I've heard him talking about exactly what kind of presents he wanted for this birthday, what flavor cake, how it would be decorated, which activities he would do, etc. He even made sure we knew to get him three balloons so that each of his siblings could have one as well.
We started the morning with presents and doughnuts from Lehi Country Bakery (and chocolate milk to wash all that sugar down - breakfast of champions!).  He took his time opening presents because he needed to play with each item for a bit before moving on to the next one.  He really loved everything he got, which included a 14" bike, a color shifters Hotwheels playset, an r/c helicopter from Grandma Coco/Grandpa Bruce, a gem mining kit, Legos, and a hotwheels custom building set (create your own custom hotwheels car!).

Sammy is such a generous kid.  He had no problem sharing his new toys with his siblings, and they all played pretty happily together for some time on several of his presents.

After breakfast and some play time we went to Jump On It, the trampoline park that has become a birthday tradition for each kid.  They love it so much! (Collin will post pics and video of that on his weekly Sunday post.)

We followed the jumping extravaganza with a simple lunch, a boys' trip to the theater to see "Home" (a movie about an alien), Sammy's favorite dinner of banh mi from Viet Deli, and lots and lots of video games.  So, pretty much the perfect day!  He went to bed so completely satisfied tonight.  Happy birthday, dear Sammy!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Weekly Digest, May 10, 2015

This week rained a lot.  We didn't go out much or do much.

Yesterday Maxine and I were craving ramen.  It was a strange craving and was out of the blue.  We decided to go downtown to a Japanese restaurant called "Naked Fish" which is a high-end sushi restaurant but also has really great ramen.  They were closed for lunch.  So then we went to "Takashi" which is our favorite Japanese restaurant but they were also closed for lunch.  So we went with our third option which was called "Tosh's Ramen" and it turns out that Tosh was the ramen chef at Naked Fish and quit and started his own restaurant and we're so glad we went there!  The ramen was perfect and we spent the next several hours exclaiming to each other how perfect our meal was.  It was the best!  We actually spent a lot of today exclaiming to each other how good it was.

Last night Maxine took Isaac to a Jr-High school play called "Bye Bye Birdie."  Isaac said he had a good time but spent much of the time staring off into space.
 Maxine's been busy making a lot of cakes these past couple weeks.  This was a mother's day cake for our neighbor Amy.  3-layer 6-inch cake with filling made from strawberry swiss-meringue buttercream with chocolate ganache and sliced strawberries between each layer.  Then more ganache and chocolate-covered strawberries on top.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Kid spotlight: Isaac

I was going over some old posts tonight, just because I like to amaze myself at how little my kids used to be and how much I've forgotten about some details of their childhood, especially in the posts where I highlight each child.  I'm thankful for this blog for that reason, and I figure it's high time I did another spotlight series.  First up: our firstborn!

* Isaac's into reading lately.  He reads to himself every night without us asking him to.  His comprehension and fluency are improving a great deal, too.  It still catches me by surprise when he reads something over my shoulder.

* He has become a rather great eater.  Just about all traces of pickiness have disappeared and he'll choke down even the vilest (in his mind) meal.  He even likes some surprising things like eggplant (in ratatouille and some fancy-pants eggplant/orzo bake) and radishes (but only with mint, butter, and sea salt because they're completely delicious that way).  It makes me want to take him out to nicer restaurants to further broaden his palate. He still prefers your standard American fare over anything too exotic, but at least he's willing to try anything.  His current favorite restaurant is Johnny Rockets, but it's mostly because they have a kids' menu that doubles as an activity page.

* Isaac is as social as ever.  He still loves playing with his brother and they pretty much have a nonstop blast together.  He's had a couple of play dates with his friend from school (who used to live just over one street before they moved early in the school year), and he talks frequently about his other friends.  Recess game of choice: variations of tag, the current most popular being Zombie Tag.

*  He's taken a break from his artistic side.  While he still enjoys creating and drawing things, it no longer holds his interest as much as it used to. 

* He can ride a bicycle very proficiently and has since last spring, but he currently prefers the trike for some reason.  Go figure.

* Isaac loves his "blankie," which we randomly gave him to use a few years ago.  I think it was in storage at his Grandma Coco's house and we used it during one of our visits.  It's been his ever since and now he likes to wrap himself up in it each morning (and afternoon, and evening) to stay warm. 
* As Collin mentioned in the last post, Isaac's super into chess now.  I mean, super.  He wants to play pretty much all the time.  We've been going easy on him of course, giving him hints and coaching him on how to foresee his opponents' moves.  Last time, he asked Collin not to go easy on him anymore.  He really wants to get good at it.  In general, Isaac really loves board games, but the more grown-up kind.  He loves King of Tokyo and asks to play that one frequently as well.  I love that he's becoming such a gamer!

* Video games.  Ah, video games.  He of course loves video games.  He's gotten quite decent at Mario Kart (he comes in 1st place sometimes), loves the Phineas and Ferb game, plays Monster Jam with Sammy, and is currently really into Lego Star Wars.  We limit video games to weekends, but they (all the kids) also love to watch Collin play a little Sly Cooper on some week nights.

*TV: His favorite shows include Avatar: The Legend of Korra, Casper's Scare School (why???), Phineas and Ferb.

* Things we've been working on: Complaining.  Isaac went through a whining phase a few months ago, which was about the worst thing for my nerves.  Thankfully, (yes, thankfully) he's moved onto complaining.  That I can deal with a bit better.  He isn't too extreme about it though.  We're also working on him letting people get a word in edgewise.  He loves to talk to us (and we love to listen to him!), but his stories tend to go on for quite a while.  We're trying to encourage more brevity without making him feel like we aren't interested.  It's a tough balance.

* I am frequently humbled by Isaac's sweetness and obedience.  I still can't imagine having a better oldest child than him.  He is truly pure of heart and innocent and kind to the core, and no amount of potty humor (seriously with the potty humor, kid!) or stinky attitude (oh yeah, sometimes he thinks he's a brooding teenager) can ever diminish those core personality traits.  We all love him so dearly - he's our Buddy!