Friday, May 19, 2017

Happy 10th Birthday Brielle!

Brielle is 10!  
She decided last year that she wanted to have lemon bars in the shape of a sun and had fun planning and decorating.
I didn't realize when I made cakes for my kids when they were little how quickly I'd get out of doing that job.  Ethan and Brielle always want to make their own cakes now. It's fun to see what they come up with.
We got to spend her birthday in Palm Desert for the SCAG conference.  Her Gramma Finlay was being installed as president that day so most of the Finlay side of the Family was all together that day. 
She loves being with all her cousins.  It was a much more fun day to be with family at a hotel that day.  Especially since she was supposed to be doing state testing at school.
She especially loved the library at the hotel.
That night she was presented with a beautiful cake while all SCAG members (about 500 mayors, city officials, etc.) sang happy birthday to her.  She was so nervous to go up in front of everyone, but felt very special.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

General Conference April 2017

A quick post to document another General Conference.
Preston was more interested in cutting than in coloring or any kind of taking notes.  
I tried having him make a collage of words that he heard.  Letting him cut things out from past friends.  That was a bit beyond his ability to figure out without my help, but he enjoyed just gluing random pictures.
The big kids were pretty focused and enjoyed earning conference cash again.  
We didn't have a chance to do a a conference menu-with the timing of our watching we didn't need a lunch.  The kids missed doing that, but we had lots of treat options for sale for dessert at the conference store which they loved.

A couple of their note pages:


Friday, April 7, 2017

Ethan 8-year Interview and Stats

Ethan continues to be a bundle of intense energy.  He has a lot of self confidence which is refreshing.  He does really well in school other than being too eager to socialize during class time.  He entertains himself easily making new projects (some of his most recent: a guitar made out of cardboard and duct tape, planting his own garden, building a marble track designed with paper and tape.)  He doesn't think to ask before doing and I often find him in the middle of some sort of creation.  I don't always appreciate the mess made in the process, but I love his creativity and ambition.  He loves when I assign him big projects (such as cleaning out the shed or taking apart an old shelf that needs to be thrown out) and is a great help.
Height: 55 inches (99%)
Weight: 70 lbs (93%)
Sleeping: 11 hours (8:00 pm-7:00 am) Still falls asleep quickly and wakes up on the move
Hobbies: Loves all sports.  This year he has done basketball, track and volleyball.  But he'll happily do any and all.  He gets very involved in college sports and immediately asks the scores when he wakes up if they finished after he had to go to bed.  He enjoys playing the piano, reading, and cooking.  He is in charge of Saturday breakfast and likes to make german pancakes and breakfast burritos best.  He is so excited about being a cub scout.
Ethan's responses to 8-year-old Interview Questions

What is your name? Ethan
When is your birthday? March 9th
How old are you? 8
What is your favorite color? Turquoise
What is your favorite song? I'm a Child of God
What is your favorite food? Spaghetti
What is your favorite animal? Snow Leopard
What is your favorite movie? Trolls
What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Mint Chocolate Chip
What is your favorite dessert? brownies
Who is your best friend? Justin
What is your favorite book? Go Dogs Go (but then after said he actually likes all animals books-non fiction is his favorite). 
What is your favorite thing to do? Play with my family
When do you go to bed? 7:30
What does your Daddy do? He works at USC
What does your Mommy do? She takes care of children at home
What do you like about being 7? That I get to be baptized.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Happy 8th Birthday Ethan!

Ethan turned 8 on Thursday.
We had the chance to go on a tour of the port of Long Beach that day.  All the California cousins were there, which made Ethan's day very special. 
He was very happy about getting checked out of school. And enjoyed learning about the cargo shipments and how it all works.
Ethan requested a baked Alaska for his birthday dessert.  I don't think he had ever had one before, but heard about one last year and knew thats what he wanted.
And, as is his way-he did all the decorating himself.  He decided on an Artic theme.  He found and printed off pictures and made his own sign for the cake.
Other birthday requests were German Pancakes for breakfast and Beaurox, Soup and Salad for dinner.

Monday, March 6, 2017

San Jose/Santa Cruz

Last weekend James and I were able to have a quick get-a-way trip to Northern California.
We didn't have much time so hit the ground running...or biking as soon as we landed.  Stopping at Googleplex for tour.  We enjoyed the bikes all over campus to grab and explore on our own.
We also made a stop at Apple headquarters before making our way toward the beach.
We loved our hike in the redwoods.  James was successful in his goal to find a banana slug.  We actually spotted 5 or 6 along the trail.
It was perfect hiking weather and the trail was gorgeous.... least what was left of the trail.  The rain the previous week had washed out quite a bit of the trail and some of the bridges.  Which made for some adventurous hiking.
we loved it.
we made it to Santa Cruz by late afternoon and stopped at natural bridges state beach.  It was too cloudy to enjoy the sunset, but still fun to be there.
The next day we were able to walk a long the boardwalk, beach and pier in Santa Cruz.
 There was a clam chowder cook off and festival happening.  It was so fun to watch the preparation.
Booths had to make at least 10 gallons, but most were making much more than that for the crowds to be able to taste.
We found an uncrowded beach to enjoy a sample.  It was so good.
While we were away the kids loved having some time with their Aunt, Uncle and cousins.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ecuador-Saturday, December 31st:Traveling Back Home

We had time Saturday morning to stop by the markets on our way to the airport.
The trip, of course went by way too quickly.
Every single flight we went on, Preston was fascinated with the airplane safety instructions.  He still asks about airplanes daily.  The travel home went smoothly.  We got back just in time to celebrate the New Year.  James' dad picked us up from the airport and we watched the fire works as midnight hit on the drive home.

The summary movie James put together of the trip. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Ecuador-Friday, December 30th: Salinas

Left Guaranda after a breakfast at the hotel.  It was about a 30 minute drive to get to Salinas.

Salinas has an interesting history.  It is named for its salt mining but until 45 years ago was a very poor area.  We hiked out to the salt mines.  Going into the drying hut where the smoke was pouring out hurt all of our eyes, but was interesting. 
In the 1970s an Italian missionary helped to establish a fair trade co-op.  The locals worked together to produce cheese and share profits equally.  After that proved successful, they created other small businesses all as part of the co-op.
As we drove into town we were able to see people bringing in milk.  
Brought in my llama, donkey, motorcycle, or even just strapped to someones back.
It is a long daily trek made after milking the cows to get the milk to the cheese factory.
The milk is weighed and tested and the farmer is given a paper slip that is used to track their contribution.  We got to see the cheese being made and tasted some of the different kinds.  Our favorite was basil.
At the center of town, we got to witness election day.  What was interesting is it was divided by gender.  We were able to hire a guide to take us to some of the other factories.
We went first to the yarn making factory where they process sheep and alpaca wool. 
Their machines were donated from Canada and were built in 1915, but they keep them working. 
They keep the sheep and alpaca wools separate.  There were piles everywhere.  Brielle and Ethan found it so funny when my mom told them "We're going to see some dying next."  They do dye the wool in all different colors.
We then went to the textile store where they sell things they've made with the yarns. Brielle bought a poncho she loved. 
We stopped by the chocolate factory to see the process and taste the result.  Aji and Maracuja were new kinds of chocolates we tried and liked.
Next stop was the soccer ball 'factory' it is a family business run by 2 people in a small upstairs room. 
All the balls are handmade.  Each piece is cut out one at a time.
The boys were both very excited to choose balls to purchase. 
Finally we went to eat pizza for lunch. It is made with all local ingredients and was very tasty. 
It was time to hit the road after that. On the drive we ran into a few El Viuda groups (men dressed as widows), they were creating traffic stops with logs across the road begging for money.
Apparently it's a New Year's Eve thing, but these groups were starting a day early.  After handing them a few coins they will move their blockade and let the car past.
Preston serenaded us during our drive with his made up songs.  One of his favorites showed he was picking up on some Spanish.  Sort of.  The lyrics went: "Muchas Galasidas and a Happy New Year."