Thursday, January 30, 2014

January 30, 2014

Confession: I went to bed late last night because sometimes wandering Pinterest is easier than turning off the lights and trying to make my head be quiet.  So, when Cocoa woke up at 6:30 this morning my head hurt so bad I couldn't hardly read the clock.  

I had my morning smoothie (today was an apple, a scoop each of oats and Greek yogurt, some brown sugar and spices, and a handful of ice.)  We all got dressed, I took a lot of Tylenol and rubbed my head in menthol/peppermint/lavender oil blend and we packed into the car to deliver Daddy's headphones and a lunch to his office- Cocoa grabbed the headphones and hid them this morning, I found them after J left.

Since we were out we ran errands- treats at the Asian Market, house supplies at Target, and some new gym shoes for E at Payless.  I looked for new Zumba shoes for me, but couldn't find any.  

Lucky envelopes for the lunar new year tomorrow

I kept the kids moving along with small snacks from our grocery bags- eventually the bread and mini donuts caught up with us and I had to carry Cocoa out of the home goods store under one arm when he tried to build a pillow fort.  (Not really- he was trying to put fallen pillows back on the shelf and every pillow he pushed in popped another one onto the floor a few feet away.)

Saw these chairs on our way out the door- they might come home with us later

He fell asleep on the way home, and we spent a quiet afternoon.  I cleaned out our furnace filters and I wonder if there was some sort of application test I was supposed to take before moving into a house, I am pretty sure I would fail it.  Those filters were FILTHY, I am lucky if I remember to clean them once or twice a year, let alone monthly.

I am working on a sonatina this month, and will perform it at a festival in two weeks.  I like to record myself periodically to get a better idea of what I look and sound like- there are always surprises.   Of course, it is always amusing to see what the kids do when they can't have my attention for roughly 2 1/2 minutes.  They make cameo appearances.  (Link below.). You can tell when they show up and start tapping my arm/using me as a face wipe around the 1:45 mark because I completely lose my fingering.  Ah well.  Ernie is videoing me.

After J got home I ran out the door to my piano lesson- it was nitty gritty as always.  This week it is my pinky: it does not have the right curve to it.  We worked on arpeggios (don't twist, never twist) and phrasing.  I showed my lack of prowess in scales, although I am impressed I can play them at all- I think it took three weeks of hands separate before I could put them together.  Once you figure out that the four finger only plays one note per octave, it is much easier to see where to break the fingering.  Oh, and my staccato notes, my wrist needs to dip instead of float, although she told me the opposite two weeks ago because then I was much too heavy.  We keep moving forward, I am happy with my progress and so grateful t have this time to learn right now.  I can't imagine I will be able to keep it going after the summer, something will come along and demand precendence, but I will learn as quickly as I can while I can.

I picked everyone up after my lessons and we went out shopping to look at the chairs is aw earlier- they were rottenly uncomfortable but we did find pillows for the front room (teal silk), a sturdy basket for my boomwhacker instruments, and a mirror for the kids' bathroom.  I cleaned the kitchen, and chickened out on painting tonight.  I had a smoothie for dinner at 9:30, walked my festival application out to the mailbox, and sat on the couch for an hour.  

J's office, lit up blue and green this time: Seahawks colors!  This town is pretty excited for our Super Bowl game on Sunday.  It is funny though- J has decided that watching sports on Sundays isn't the right answer for him- Sundays are for worship and family time.  He has been getting questions at work "So, what are you doing for the Super Bowl on Sunday?"  Oh, he replies, "I'll record it and watch it Monday."  "......No, what are you doing for the Super Bowl on Sunday?"  

Found this warning on a new package of straws I brought home tonight.  Ha- better keep these away from the kids!  It says "This is not a toy.  Not intended for children under 13 years of age."

Cocoa and Mimi shared a chair during scriptures- sweet, strange, boy grabbed her hand and just held tight.  He and Mimi are getting to be quite the pair right now.

Funny story- while I was gone tonight at my piano lesson, Cocoa snuck the bag of donuts out of the kitchen and sat in the back room eating every last one...except one.  J got that one.  The girls were so disappointed that when I saw a bag at the store tonight, I bought it.  Guess what Cocoa found while I was tucking the girls in bed?  Yum.  Little turkey.  He is getting self sufficient and much harder to keep track of!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January 29, 2014

The kids were all up before 7:00 again- bless her heart, Ernie always gets Cocoa out of bed these days.  I am a lucky mom.

My 7:30 piano lesson canceled so I taught 8:00-9:00 and we all bundled into the car to head to the YMCA.  Second time I zumba'ed this week, a definite record!  Mimi and Cocoa played upstairs and Ernie came to class with me- she suited up today and danced next to me.  Good girl :)

Shall we keep me honest?  After adding dairy and gluten back to my diet (and eating pie November-December) my stomach is not as flat as it was last summer and I put on a few pounds.  Let's see if I can make that go away, yeah?  I managed to keep gaining weight this month even subbing green smoothies for one- two meals a day.  I was sure I was pregnant, but I am NOT pregnant: I am just fat.  Well, actually it is complicated because I am heavier than I used to be, but also smaller in a lot of measurements.  I am either gaining muscle or am a human black hole: the more mass I have, the smaller I get.  

After Zumba we fetched Mimi and I let the girls swim for an hour.  

We went grocery shopping and dropped off dinner for a new mom in our ward and came home for lunch.  We had brown rice leftover from last night's dinner so I warmed it up and made onigiri for the kids.  Little cheeses became ninjas- Cocoa was thrilled!  I cut the eyes out of a sheet of seaweed.

I cleaned the kitchen and got a pot of soup started, E practiced piano and started school, and the kids played.  

This afternoon was our pre-music class, and the other students didn't make it.  I held the class with just my two girls anyway- E looks forward to the games and M needed the practice anyway!  Today we focused on reading the treble staff- I made a staff with tape on the floor and the girls marched up and down chanting the line names forwards and backward.  Then we threw beanbags onto the staff and called out what they landed on, tried to get the bean bags close to a letter I called out, and then practiced moving the beanbags by intervals up and down the staff.  We've been working on interval ear training all year, I showed them how if you know 1-3-5-8 you can find any other pitch from there.  We sang a song about a guy named Joe who works in a button factory to help develop a steady beat, and watched a version of Let It Go on YouTube dubbed in 25 languages.  I played it on the piano so they could sing it too, and Mimi was so cute: she had all the actions memorized and stamped her foot, threw her arms out, tossed her head... Hysterical!

After lessons I made dinner and we finished watching Whisper of the Heart- we are working through all our Studio Ghibli films in order.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The choir performed Sunday, we went early (8:30!) to rehearse before services started at 9:00.  I played organ this week as well as accompanied the choir- I am getting to know the instruments there quite well!

Mimi gave a talk in primary so I helped her with that- I finished postlude right before her turn to speak, it was close!

We went to my grandpa's for dinner- my great aunt is here visiting all the way from Alabama!  We brought a salad, my sister's family brought bread and cake, and she made a big batch of chicken spaghetti and grandpa threw an extra loaf of garlic bread in the oven.  All very yummy and I even tricked folks into taking some selfies with me in very bad lighting :)

Grandpa and Cocoa

Me and Grandpa

Me and my little sister 

Me and my great-aunt.  The girls are all in love with her- Mimi says she talks like a princess :). I was twelve years old before I figured out her name was Bonnie and not Bunny.  :). My grandma was the only one in her family to leave the south- one other sister lived in California for a few decades but has since gone back home to Alabama.

Mimi was ABSOLUTELY ECSTATICALLY THRILLED that Daddy's office was lit up with the pink lights this week.

Cocoa got extra stories before bedtime

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tuesday.... I think I write all this down so when I try and figure out how I managed to accomplish NOTHING at the end of the day, I know where the daylight hours went.

After E finished yesterday's school work and we spent an hour combing the house for the girls' swim bag I called the gym and they had it there.  We picked it up and the girls got into their ( cold, smelly) swimsuits and after they had a wonderful swim I handed them their (cold, smelly) towels.  You better believe Ernie took special care to make sure the bag came home with us and the wet things made it into the laundry!

Last night's sourdough was a success- rose all made two nice loaves after lunch!  Super crisp crust, not great color, but very tasty- nice tang but not too sour.  Mimi and Cocoa spent all afternoon in the yard munching on warm slices of bread.  I finally pulled him in for a nap around 3:30.

(Guess what came in the mail today?  Ernie does not know yet...!!!)

I knew Cocoa was ready for a nap when he couldn't walk in a straight line.  Here he is, yelling at me to "Go to the kitchen!"  No joke.  He wanted to do something naughty, and didn't want me to watch.

While he slept the girls and I did a little painting.

I cleaned up the house a bit and made dinner- our new favorite recipe is chicken thighs baked in a mixture of maple syrup, yellow mustard, rice vinegar, and a dash of tapatio, and one quarter of a preserved lemon.  I cook the pan juices into a quick gravy and then blitz it in the blender to get the lemon in there.  I served brown rice and a salad on the side- as a treat informed the brown rice into balls with a bit of seaweed flakes in the middle.  The kids LOVE those and I love that they aren't doused in sugary yoshi sauce :). I wanted something sweet after dinner so passed around a bowl of jelly beans.  

After dinner J cleaned the kitchen and went to Lowes to get lots more window casing (our handyman came today and worked in finishing installing molding and casing in the house- it was half old and half new.). I started painting the kids' bathroom- got the ceiling done and most of the walls cut in.  I like the wall color!  It's Valspar, Eddie Bauer line in Craft White.  It's expensive, about twice as much, but the premium primer+paint really does do the job in one coat.  I was able to paint our gray straight over the green in the front room!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January 27, 2014

Stories before nap time 

Busy day- the kids were up before7:00 so we had time to get Ernie's piano lesson done first today at 7:30.  I taught two more lessons after that, the kids split a bowl of oatmeal from the freezer, and we all went up to the YMCA.  I haven't gone for anything but taking the kids swimming since before Christmas, I think.  

Came home and the kids played outside and Ernie practiced piano while I took a shower and got lunch ready.  Ernie sliced cucumbers and mushrooms and I sliced cheese and ham and set out crackers.  After lunch Ernie started math, the kids played, and I cleaned the kitchen.  I put Cocoa down for a nap when he got tired and helped Ernie get started on a science project (drawing an imaginary weather forecast for our area, using the vocab words and brainstormed possible weather patterns during that time of year and in a logical order.). She had fun with that project, it turned out nice.  

She kept working in school in the afternoon an Mimi played on the computer after cleaning up a bit, and I taught four more piano lessons.  

Cocoa woke up during lessons and kept Mimi company, watching her play, and after lessons I started dinner.  Everyone loves my Greek chicken-lemon-rice soup and I have screwed it up twice in the past two weeks!  The first time I added so much rice it was more like rice pudding, although Mimi loved it that way.  The second time I used fresh lemons and I think they were extra juicy- it was so tart we threw away the whole batch and ate crackers for dinner.  It turned out like normal tonight, and everyone enjoyed it.  I crumbled a few crackers into Mimi's before dinner so it could thicken up like porridge and she happily ate her whole bowl.  I served a a salad on the side, and crackers.

We cleared the table and had FHE- Mimi gave a talk in primary yesterday so she gave that for our lesson tonight.  Ernie shared her king-size candy bar for dessert- she earned it last week by passing off her tenth piano song since September :). Only two other kids have earned their bars, I am proud of her!

The kids got ready for bed, we read scriptures and had prayers, and J measured some walls for trim and ran out to Lowes before they close.  I made a batch of sourdough to sit overnight, and cleaned the kitchen and put Cocoa to bed.

That's the day!  All happy and healthy here.  I am hoping to find the energy to paint tomorrow, the kids' bathroom will be don soon after I do that :). After I paint, J will install the new light and we will put up a mirror and it will be done.  I meant to paint tonight, but opted for a clean kitchen instead- can only do one thing, ha.

Monday, January 20, 2014

January 20, 2014

Gifts!  All my pictures are gifts today, ha.

My dad breezed in and out this morning, and left these ear muffs behind.  I have been yearning for these for months!  Squabbles, piano practicing, blenders, leaf blowers....none of these day to day things can touch me now.  Score!

(That necklace?  Gift.  The striped shirt?  Hand-me-down from my sister.  Chair I am sitting in?  Hand-me-down from my parents.  My kid peed on it, though.  I did buy the pink shirt, and felt pretty guilty about that purchase too.  You can't see my pants, but yep: gift.  Mom combed Costco for every stretchy pair of pants they had in my size after Cocoa was born and dropped them off.

Coca says he's a "princess."  Princess Leia, perhaps?  Uh, that couch behind him was also a hand-me-down, but I bought the slipcover and pillows.  Ooh, big spender!  His pj's were his cousin's. 

This was my Christmas present from J- we had it mounted and framed this week.  I love it!  Limited, signed copy of this delightful Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli tea party a la Alice in Wonderland by Justin Hillgrove (Imps and Monsters.)  He's actually a local, he lives in Edmonds.  We'll hang it over the dining room table.  Which, as we know, was a gift from my parents when E turned two so that we could host the birthday dinner!

This was a gift last year, also from my parents,  but I have been using it at least once a day these past bit making smoothies, soups, muffins, sauces....I adore, adore, adore my Vitamix.  See this picture?  That's cubed butternut squash, WITH SKIN.  Throw it in there, cover with water, and blend for about five seconds.  WHIZZ BANG!  I froze this to make muffins later- we are still eating our way through holiday goodies.  My waist does not approve.  The colander was a wedding gift- it has rubber feet and rubber handles, I love it and use it almost every day!

This was also a gift last year.....a lovely Christmas check turned into a Kinect and some games for the family.  We don't play it all the time, but it is really fun to do together :)

Uh, the clock...yeah, J's sister painted that for us.  The flower arrangement on the console was left on our porch by our neighbors at our last house as they down sized.

Oh, and that husband up there?  Gift from his parents.  Cocoa is our gift from God.

You know....just about every nice thing we have was a gift.  We are a blessed family!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Painting the front Room

Our darling kids managed to tear the curtain rod straight out of the wall playing hide and seek a few months ago- we had our handyman ( yes, he is ours and you can't have him!) patch the wall.  We are totally out of the green this wall was, weren't  sure new paint would match the old paint, and were ready to try something a little calmer than basil green on the walls so that I could have more fun with really bright accessories.

J chose the perfect gray!

He had to paint the tall parts, though. " I have a big head and little arms- I am not sure how well this plan was thought through."  The paint went on light and dried dark.

I did the cutting in with a 1" craft brush- I don't like to tape off!

This is what it looked like before we moved in- that railing thing was quickly replaced with a sturdy wall that children couldn't fall through and that didn't need plastic garden lattice zip tied to it.  Ahem.  HUGE thanks to J's dad for making that wall happen!  All the paint colors were so not what we wanted when we moved in- all dusty and faded.  Everything you see in sage here is now gray- the left part will be gray as soon as we have a full day to get out the BIG ladder and have time for J to paint up top.  I am not a big fan of ladders, either.  Guess I'm a pansy!

Living Room

Here it is Christmas '12 (with my hipster, but not hipster because they're so cliche, adorable sister)  But you get the idea, these walls were G.R.E.E.N.  So green, and it made me so happy, but made all our furniture look so strange...the windows looked strange... we'll try gray on for a while.


Kid Bathroom Renovation

We are in the middle of a bathroom re-do.  So far it's taken two weeks, but the second week has mostly been "dude is here for an hour to put more mud on the walls" every day.

He came one last time this morning to sand down the walls and I gave it a coat of PVA primer this afternoon.  He'll come back and texture Monday, and then I can paint.

So far he (our great handyman) has replaced the ceiling to get rid of a recessed fluorescent lighting box, replaced the faucet to get rid of a cold water handle that hasn't been able to turn on in a year, replaced the fan in the ceiling, and replaced the light switch and GCFI.  Also, skimmed the walls to get rid of the heavy- duty knock down texture so that the new ceiling and old walls could match.  We have primed the walls and replaced the toilet -- it was a fine toilet except that it couldn't handle our kids, and I am tired of plunging.

Still to do: texture and paint the walls and ceiling, install the new light fixture, and hang a new mirror.  Then it's just fluffing- hang artwork and find a shower curtain that matches the colors.  We want to paint the cabinets white, too.  Oh, and the door looks like a large dog was regularly locked in the bathroom- the door and knob have lots of gouges and scratches in them from the previous owners.  I need to putty and paint the door, and J will install the new doorknob.  We have a good thing going- he does the heavy lifting and anything requiring a drill or wires, I paint.  (I am rotten with a drill, and great with a paint brush. Use your strengths!)

Here it is before we moved in.  That towel rack and toilet paper holder soon fell off the wall.  It's been a real classy bathroom, I tell you what!

Hall Bathroom