Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Domestic Diva

To borrow a phrase from my sister-in-law, I am a domestic diva! This past week I have:
*Baked cookies twice (So what if one time was a miserable failure... I mean "learning experience...")
*Painted the wainscoting and trim in my bathroom (Pictures to come. Yipee!)
*Harvested lettuce, broccoli, carrots, strawberries, raspberries (only two so far, but still...) and 1 itsy-bitsy teeny-tiny red potato from my garden. AND I cooked with them!
*Made homemade strawberry jam. Yum, YUm, YUM!
*Ground my own wheat into flour.
*Made homemade wheat bread with said flour.
On top of all that, I managed to keep two kids fed and dressed. (Okay, only partially dressed some of the time. But hey, isn't that what summer's all about?) It feels so rewarding to eat a salad entirely from your garden. Or to have a snack of bread and jam that you made yourself.

Next on the list: baking banana bread and more whole wheat bread.

I feel.... empowered. I love being a homemaker.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Levi-ism

Levi just said something pretty funny, so I thought I'd share so you can all chuckle. Levi is supposed to be getting on some shoes so we can leave, but he just picked up his tennis shoes and started putting them back in their shoebox (which we still have though we bought the shoes about a month ago), while explaining, "Me don't love these. Take them back to the hospital." What? I've heard of kids saying that about younger siblings, but shoes? Don't you love to imagine how their little minds work? I sure do.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rewind: Levi Turns 3!

Levi turned 3 on March 1st. It has been so much fun to watch him learn and grow and develop. He is such a sweet boy, and I am so glad to call him mine. We started out the big day by upholding a family tradition that we started on Levi's first birthday: sneeking into his room while he was sleeping and decorating with balloons and streamers. Check out his killer bed head in the video below!

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Levi asked for a "Red Car" cake this year. He calls Lightening McQueen "Red Car" even though he can say "Lightening McQueen" just fine. My first idea was to use his Matchbox-style cars, and so I boiled them to sterilize them.... BAD IDEA! I guess there are some plastic parts that aren't boil-proof, and I ruined them. We had to go buy some new ones a few weeks later. Instead, I used these mini-Cars from his spiral racetrack. It still turned out pretty cool... Levi liked it, and that's all that matters.
Check out that hair! Holy Cow!
When we asked Levi if he was excited about his upcoming birthday, he started talking about triangle hats, so I thought I better buy some. They didn't have any Cars hats, so here we are with our Dora the Explorer hats.
Opening gifts







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Getting ready to blow out that candles.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Rewind: February

Look at this! It is almost like I'm on my way to catching up... but really, don't hold your breath. Here is what we did in February 2010:

{Got started on our garden:}
This year we decided to do Square Foot Gardening. So far, so great! The kiddos helped Sam build the boxes, and Levi helped us plant seeds in our indoor starter kit. I'm not really sure why we do these, since they haven't really worked for us and we have a long enough growing season that using the SFG method we don't really need to start things inside.

p.s. Check out Levi's hair! We let it go MONTHS (like 9 or something) without cutting it. It got sooo long. Now looking at these pictures, I don't even recognize the boy.)

{Went snowboarding again:}
So much fun! I am so glad Sam introduced me to the sport and that he is such a patient teacher. I love that man!

{Made our traditional Valentine's Day cookies:}
Uncle Ben (my younger brother) came over and celebrated Valentine's Day with us by decorating heart cookies. This is something I've carried on from my childhood, although this year I made the cookies quite a bit smaller (I may not make healthy choices, but sometimes I make healthi-er choices!) Brinley, for those who don't know, is a chocoholic! She can smell chocolate a mile away. Needless to say, she was in heaven. Forget decorating cookies, I'm just gonna shove chocolate into my mouth. Levi, on the other hand, really got into the decorating for the first time. After the cookies were finished, Levi kept eating Daddy's cookie instead of his own. He'd always say, "Please eat Daddy's cookie. Not mine."

{Had a whole bunch of normal, precious days:}
From top to bottom, left to right:
*We spent many hours building the tallest tower possible (using all the blocks) and then knocking them over.
*The kids "helping" me vacuum. It was so funny watching them try to push around a machine bigger than them.
*Levi giving Brinley a ride in some storage buckets. Who needs toys, right?
*Brinley playing cowgirl on her rocking cow. Love the hat!
*Levi is such a sweet older brother and is so good about sharing. Here he is giving Brinley a ride on his trike.
*February brought amazing weather! We spent quite a bit of time out on the swingset in the backyard. This kiddos love the swings! Aunt Arina came over this particular day and played with Levi and Brinley.
*A picture of me, courtesy of Levi.
*Brinley wearing Mommy's shoes. She loves my Crocs, probably because they are so light, she can easily walk around in them. Just yesterday, I was wearing my Crocs, and Brinley brought me a pair of flip flops to trade so she could wera the Crocs. :-D

And again, here are some videos:

Brinley playing Wii Fit Plus:
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Levi and Brinley sharing a ride:
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Teaching Brinley to play catch:
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Cowgirl Brinley:
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Riding the slopes:
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rewind: January

So, I had this grand idea that I'd do a post highlighting our year so far. I made a collage of January and that's as far as I got. And that was weeks ago. Obviously, too high of expectations. I hope you will accept instead, a glimpse of our January.

Highlights of January 2010:

1. I went snowboarding for the first time! For Christmas I gave Sam a gift certificate for one day of "pulling me up out of the snow and riding the ski lift". We went to Bluewood, and Sam was an amazing teacher! I like snowboarding sooo much more than I thought I would. And it was awesome to have an entire day just to ourselves. We loved it so much, we went again in February.

(FYI, Levi just walked in a started asking to play his computer games... I've been on this thing for 2 minutes max! That's why I never blog anymore! We'll see if I can fend him off long enough to finish this post.)

2. I turned 27. See the little picture of me blowing out my candles? Sam got me Wii Fit Plus... I LOVE it! I've decide that this is my exercise of choice for right now--something that actually works for me. It is fun, competitive, tracks my progress... and here's the best part: I just hand each of the kids a controller and they "play" along with me instead of nagging me! Hooray!

3. Sam and I got to go to a Jon Schmidt concert. It was fantastic and fun (which surprised me). He came to a local high school to help with a fundraiser for their music department (one of the high schoolers organized it all).

The rest of the pictures are of my cute kiddos. Don't I have beautiful children? We were walking through the airport yesterday (on our way home from Connie's [Sam's sister] graduation) and Brinley was sitting on Levi's lap in our umbrella stroller. We travel like that a lot because an umbrella stroller is so convenient to cart around and the kids do great riding together. We walked past a lady who said seeing them like that was the cutest thing and we totally made her day. Then she said, "Those two are going to be best friends for life." And I think she is totally right. Levi and Brinley love each other so much and are such great friends. Seeing that is pure joy for me.

Here are some videos from January. These are mostly for my own sake, so I can look back and remember my kids at this age.
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(p.s. I am posting this the same day that I started it... albeit 7 hours later... HOORAY!)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Makeover my MIL

My husband and his sister nominated their mom for a makeover for Mother's Day. This incredible woman is the mother of 12, mother-in-law of 6, grandmother of 13, and wife to 1. As more and more children leave the nest (there are only 3 left at home, and one is a senior), Trudy has decided to finished the education she delayed to raise her children. As she is making over her life and herself on the inside, she deserves a makeover for her outside to go with it. So, please hit the link and give a vote for Trudy!

http://makeyouover.blogspot.com/2010/04/without-any-further-ado-i-present-to.html

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thoughts on Motherhood

{WARNING: THERE IS A RANT AT THE END OF THIS POST!}

I was at our local church bookstore, picking up some Easter gifts, when I happened across a book on clearance for $4. It was called, It's Okay to Take a Nap, and since this is something Sam has been telling me for years now, I decided to pick it up and take it home. The subtitle of the book is "And other reassuring truths for mothers everywhere." I read it with pencil in hand, and ended up making quite a few notations. I'd like to share some of what I liked with you here. P.S. The author is Debra Sansing Woods.

*"If we as mothers do something we absolutely love alongside raising children we absolutely love, we will, I believe, almost guarantee that our children will be raised in an atmosphere of joy." Sam and I both had to read this statement twice before we really got it, but I absolutely (:-D) love it. Being a mom doesn't mean giving up all of our talents, hobbies, interests, learning, etc. We should definitely continue to do things we love, because it will bless both our lives and our children's lives. I know it can be hard to find time/energy/ways to do what you love, but here is my advice: JUST DO IT!

*"Most mothers have no real idea how much the accomplish in a given day. Because, truth be told, much of what they do for their children and in their homes does not appear on their to-do lists. If you find yourself feeling discouraged about how much you think you're not getting done, take a day this week and write down everything you did with or for your family that day that wasn't on a to-do list. I suspect your head will spin with your accomplishments." Great advice, I think!

*"I have come to believe that it's okay, even highly beneficial, to take a nap whenever possible. There was a time when, as a mother, I was not completely comfortable with the idea of taking naps. I think I had the subconscious notion that they were a poor use of my time, that even if I had the opportunity to take a nap, I should do something more 'productive' instead... It's clear to me now that oftentimes what we moms need more than anything is a much-deserved nap to give us the energy and stamina we need to more fully meet our families' needs." She hit the nail on the head! This is exactly why I can't nap. The problem is, when I don't have enough sleep I turn into a "Mommy-monster". My kids deserve better than that! I need to learn to take quick, efficient naps. (According to the author, "short naps, thirty minutes or less, are usually best because they take the edge off the fatigue without leaving you feeling groggy.")

*"If something might be funny later, I should go ahead and let it be funny now." Again, great advice!

*"A friend shared with me how much she absolutely loved being a mother. She said that while being a mother was a surprising amount of work and that, overall, raising children was far from a perfect experience, she found immense joy in the perfect moments that abound in sharing a life with a child." Sometimes I feel like I miss out on the perfect moments because I'm too focused on the work of being a mom. I need to be better about basking in the glow of perfect moments.

*"I have given myself permission to put my children on hold occasionally... The truth is, my children will have a rude awakening if they grow up expecting others to pay complete attention to them whenever demanded." I really struggled after having Brinley, because now I had two kids often demanding my attention at the same time. I felt bad picking and choosing who had to wait, or really, I felt bad making either of them wait. Waiting is good for a child, it teaches them patience. That's a big word at our house right now. Levi can often be heard saying to me, "Mom, you have to be patient!"

*"I don't have to stop what I'm doing to give a child the attention she needs. Sometimes my kids simply want to be a part of what I'm doing."

*"Happy kids are raised by happy moms." So do what it takes to be happy--guilt free!

*"More often than not, the moms I know who seem genuinely content make taking exceptional care of themselves a top priority." #1 thing I need to work on.

*"I learned from experience that the right way to get exercise while raising kids is simply to get exercise whenever and however you can." I've really struggled with exercising. I'm always saying "I can't do this because of that" i.e. I can't wake up early to exercise because I'm so tired from getting up with the kids all night. Or, I can't exercise when the kids are awake, because they climb all over me. Both totally true statements, but they aren't constructive, now are they? I just need to get to whenever and however, instead of trying to stick to a set schedule or type of exercise.

*"It seems clear to me that the secret to a mothers love is not that it be perfect in its delivery but rather that it is showered in abundance over her children's lives."

That quote just segues perfectly into this little rant:

A couple of nights ago I was at book club. I don't remember exactly how the conversation went, but there was a comment about some mom who only allowed her children 30 minutes of screen time (tv and computer) a day. A young mom in the group made a comment about her son watching more tv than that, and it seemed to me that she felt like she was being a bad mom. This set me thinking. Parenthood, but more particularly motherhood, has been turned into a huge, money-making racket that preys on our tendencies to be fearful and guilt-ridden.

Think about all the magazines about motherhood, all the books, and the studies on raising children. People are being paid big money to research and publish this stuff because we gobble it up and then, like after eating that entire basket of Easter candy, we feel like crud. "Don't let your kids watch tv or they will be fat and stupid!" "Don't let your kids sit in a grocery cart without a fancy seat cover or they will die of a strange disease!" "Don't let your kids eat cold lunch meat because there is the slightest chance it might possibly have a tiny bit of bacteria on it!" GOSH! And besides all the advice and "professional opinions" out there, we have huge super stores devoted to things your child must have, and if you don't buy it you are not a good parent. They have helmets for children learning to walk... really, they do! I'm sure "experts" would love to call CPS on me because I let my children run around barefoot outside.

When Levi was just two or three weeks old, I was reading a couple of different baby books. One said to nurse your baby whenever they seemed to want to, and another said to nurse your baby on a certain schedule. One said that nursing was a way to comfort your baby to sleep, and the other said never to let your baby fall asleep while nursing. I remember clearly sitting in our rocking chair, holding Levi, and sobbing to Sam, "I've messed everything up! I just want to start over! I'm not doing it right!" Sam gave me the best advice in the world: "Put the book down!" I did. And Levi and I were both happier and healthier. In addition, I learned something monumental. There are only two experts when it comes to my babies: Me and the Lord. The more I crowded outsiders in, the more I pushed out the Lord. By not reading the parenting books and magazines or worrying about what "experts" say or what the studies showed, I allowed the power of revelation and mother's intuition to be the ruling force in raising my children.

In case you were wondering, tv time has no direct correlation to how well your child does in school (or so I remember from reading Freak-o-nomics) and not a single baby has ever died from botulism caused by honey. Not saying you should feed your infant honey or let your child stay glued to the tv 24/7. What I am saying is you are the expert on your child. If you think something is wrong (i.e. grouchiness, disrespect, weight, inactivity, etc.) and you think that it is caused by watching too much tv, then limit tv time. Set your own boundaries. YOU are the expert on your child and YOU have the gift of revelation concerning them. Forget all the "experts" who are making tons of money off of making us feel guilty!

That is why I love this quote: "It seems clear to me that the secret to a mothers love is not that it be perfect in its delivery but rather that it is showered in abundance over her children's lives." As long as your child feels loved, you are doing a great job as a mother.

And that's my rant.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

14 down, 5 to go

That's right. It has been two full weeks since Sam left on his business trip, and there are still 5 full days until he gets home. We've both decided that two weeks is the absolute maximum any trip apart should last.

The first 6 days, we spent at home. The kids were actually really REALLY good. Brinley just laid down and went to sleep for naps and bedtime. Levi napped on occasion. (He's not into daily naps anymore. Bummer!) On rare occasions (like once), they napped at the same time, which was AWESOME! The worst part was missing Sam like crazy and feeling so lonely. Even though I had family around, without my other half I'm just lonely. It really was such a blessing that the kids were so good because then I got to miss Sam just because I missed him, not because I needed him to help keep me from going crazy.

The kids had doctor's appointments and both had to get shots. :-( This is the first time Levi has gotten a shot since he started talking in full sentences. Instead of just crying, he was crying and saying "Owie! Owie!" It was very heartbreaking. They are both super healthy, except that Levi seems to be having allergic reactions. We think it might be tree nuts, but he has had a couple that we can't trace back to anything. The doctor prescribed us an EpiPen, so I'll be carrying that around from now on. I don't think we'll have to use it, as Bendryl seems to work just fine. Levi is in the 50th percentile for height and weight. Brinley is still very small, in the 15th percentile, I think.

Day 7, we headed up to my sister Amber's house in the Seattle area. She has four kids (ages 15-3). Levi and Brinley have loved playing with all the toys and their cousins. I have loved having people around. Unfortunately, the kids haven't sleep as well here, but most nights they still do okay. We've only had one or two bad nights. We've been here since then. Tomorrow we leave and head down to Seaside, OR to spend some time at the beach with Sam's parents and 3 of his siblings (Joe, Lauren, and Arina).

I have been so blessed and strengthened by my Heavenly Father. Sam used to go on business trips for 2 or 3 days, and I'd be a wreck. Of course, the kids actually sleep sometimes now. But still, the Lord has really blessed and upheld me these past two weeks. About two days ago, though, I started getting pretty worn down. Didn't help that the night before had been one of those bad nights. What is getting to me, really, is the constant attention my kids (read: mostly Levi) demand. Whenever I try to talk to Amber, Levi will start talking to me too, louder and louder. Sometimes he'll stand right in front of my face. Other times he'll say, "Don't look at Amber. Look at me." It is frustrating and funny at the same time. After quite a bit of this, I finally grabbed him, shook him playfully, and said "You are driving me nuts!" A minute later, he was playing with a Thomas track, and the yield sign kept coming off. He finally grabbed it and said, "Mom, this thing is driving me nuts!" I had to laugh.

The Lord must have known I was losing it and really needed a break. Yesterday, I put the kids down for a nap at the same time. Hooray! I was a free woman. And for a long time, too. Brinley slept for 3 hours and Levi slept for 4 1/2. Holy cow, huh?!?!? It was absolutely awesome. And VERY needed.

All-in-all, we are doing 1000% better than I had expected. We've been able to talk to Sam via webcam usually twice a day (unless our computers are being retarded). The kids love seeing Daddy, and Brinley smothers the computer screen in kisses. We miss Sam like crazy! And we feel bad that he is alone halfway across the world. Well, kinda alone. He does have coworkers there to keep him some company, but that's not the same as having family or friends. We are all very much looking forward to the 30th when we will all be together again.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Awhile" is a gross understatement....

Yes, it has been a long, long while since I have posted. I made the mistake of taking last summer off from blogging, and now I think it will take me a full year to get back into the habit and all caught up! Honestly, the two main reasons (note: these are reasons NOT excuses!) my blogging has been scarce are (1) Anytime I try to use the computer, my two kids freak out. Levi wants to play his computer games and Brinley just wants at the keyboard. And (2) Our pictures are all now on a external hard drive (since I fried my computer with hot chocolate) which we access over our wireless network... our very slow wireless network. Needless to say, this makes posting pictures a very time consuming process--a thing which is already in short supply.

Anyway, enough of my reasons. I suppose I will just have to learn to blog with those difficulties. Playing catch-up is not working very well, so I'm just going to do a little update on The Clements Clan, and as time, energy, and computer-usage allows, I will do some flashbacks of the things I have neglected to post this past winter.

Sam, Levi, Brinley and I are doing rather great! The Tri-Cities has been full of sunshine and warmth since (with few exceptions) the end of January. I LOVE when spring comes early! The end of February we got our garden ready and we started planting outdoors on March 1st. We started doing square foot gardening (click here to see what SFG is.) We are very excited and hope that our garden turns out 100 times better than our garden last year (which was actually quite laughable, but a good learning experience).

This past weekend, we took a trip to Idaho Falls/Rexburg to visit Sam's grandma for her birthday. While there we were able to see several aunts and uncles, as well as some of Sam's siblings and their families. I was also able to visit a roommate from my Freshman year, Alli, and meet her little boy Grant. He is a cutie! It was a short, but very enjoyable trip. The kids also did very well in the car. Thanks Grandma Thurgood for loaning us a portable DVD player! Seriously, how did we survive before?

Here is a brief update on each of us individually:

Sam is still the Ward Mission Leader and has been working (for what seems like an eternity) with the Ward Council to get a ward mission plan in place. Work keeps him very busy, but if you want to know with what you should probably ask him. I could try to tell you, but I wouldn't explain it very well, I think. Although Sam is traveling less often, his business trips have been of a longer duration. He leaves tomorrow and will be back on March 30th. So please, pray for my sanity for the next few weeks. Sam has also been reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen as well as a couple of other books about that region (Middle East), and is very interested in learning about that part of the world right now. The things he tells me about are very interesting and thought-provoking.

I am still serving in Young Women's as Laurel's adviser. I enjoy it, but find that I'm starting to have a hard time with the lessons because I have already taught them all before. It is difficult to be original. I have also been reading a lot, which has really become my favorite pastime. I just read an incredible book Left to Tell that you all should read.

Other than that, I've been spending quite a bit of time trying to develop a system that works for my home. We've rearranged rooms, moved furniture, de-cluttered, and purged. I've really been analyzing what my problems are (i.e. specific messes, like the kids books always being scattered everywhere instead of on the shelf) and how to address that specific issue so that it is less work for me. I am trying to limit the amount of time I spent cleaning up each day. (In case you were wondering, I solved the book problem by keeping the books in tubs instead of on a book shelf. There was just something so fun about pulling books off a shelf that isn't nearly as fun as pulling them out of a tub. Also, I put all of the soft cover books that Levi mainly reads before naps and bed in one tub up high and all of Brinley's board books in another on the floor. So there are half as many books within reach to mess up.)

Levi just had his 3rd birthday. He is just growing up so fast. His vocabulary has skyrocketed and he talks all the time! He says some of the funniest things and also has Sam and I looking at each other and chuckling. He is still our little sportsman and is also loving cars and Legos/blocks. Levi is learning is letters and his sounds, and he knows his numbers 1-10 (although not necessarily in the correct order...) He is also really into Go! Diego! Go!, Dora the Explorer, Handy Manny, and Thomas.

Brinley is almost 15 months old, but is still a little runt. She's a good eater though, unlike Levi who won't eat anything. She loves watching "Purple Monster" (actually called The Letter Factory, but Levi has always called it Purple Monster because one has an appearance at the beginning of the movie, so we've all taken to calling it that). Brinley is also talking quite a bit which is very different for us. She says purple (referring to the movie), cracker, poo-poo (which just means diaper more often than the other), Ma, Da, "vi" (Levi), milk, amen, bye-bye, yum, thank you, ball, duck, peek-a-boo (my favorite!), cheese and jacket. Oh, and, "What's That?" That was probably her first word. She also said "Love you" to me once yesterday. That made me feel like a million bucks!

Well, there's a little update on The Clements Clan. Maybe now that I've done this, I can stop feeling guilty about neglecting the blog and perhaps I'll stop avoiding it so much. :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Brinley turns ONE!

Brinley turned one on December 13, 2009. We celebrated by having all of our family who live in the Tri-Cities over for cake, ice cream, and presents. I can't believe my baby girl is a year old (well... now 13 months old!) She is so small, which I think really adds to my disbelief. At her one-year check-up she was 27 3/4" tall (10th percentile) and 17 1/2 lbs (3rd percentile). Needless to say, she is still rear-facing in the car... but we are hoping to change that by her 14th month mark. I think Brinley is anxious to look out of the front window instead of the rear because she has been eating TONS. She's right about at 19 lbs now!

Brinley's birthday was on a Sunday, so she got to wear this special birthday dress that Grandma Thurgood gave her. Isn't she beautiful?

We continued the tradition we started on Levi's first birthday putting balloons in their room while their sleeping and hanging streamers in their door. Brinley loved it!
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Here is Brinley's birthday cake. I always try to make their cake resemble something they really like. With Levi, that has always been easy: balls. Brinley was a little harder, but as I thought about it I realized, Duh! Brinley absolutely loves books. They are her favorite! So I made her a Pile-of-Books cake!

Brinley with Aunt Arina. Nice self-portrait.

Mommy and her sweet baby girl. I love you Brinley!!!

Opening gifts. Brinley did a rather decent job of opening her gifts for a one-year old. We decided that it was great practice for Christmas! The hardest thing was keeping the over-eager brother and cousins away.

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Aunt Lauren reading Brinley her new books.

Time for cake and ice cream!


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(p.s. Yes, we purposely sing that poorly!)


Brinley has this thing about using utensils upside down. She often eats using the handle to get the food into her mouth. Although she's not doing this nearly as often anymore, sometimes I still catch doing it backwards. So silly... Okay, as I am typing this, Brinley is eating soup. I just turned and she has started using her spoon backwards. :-D

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A little glimpse of the party:
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Monday, January 25, 2010

November

Alright.... I am determined to be caught up by then end of January. That gives me one week. Hopefully I can distract Levi away from the computer for long enough... The good news is, in addition to be horrible about blogging, I have also been negligent in my picture taking. Not good for my family history, but good for catching up.

November, if I remember right, was a nice month. We hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house for the first time ever. My whole family minus Amber and her family came as well as Sam's parents and 5 of the 7 single siblings. Oh, plus Reuben's roommate Matt. I was smart enough to delegate out almost everything, but I did make tons of desserts and the rolls. The rolls turned out most excellent. I somehow managed to mess up several pies (How does one mess up a chocolate pudding pie you may ask? Talent, pure talent.), but in the end it was all okay. Being so busy hosting, I didn't take any pictures. Oops!

Brinley loves books, being outside, and her brother. When Levi is napping, Brinley gets so antsy. She'll often push the door open and go squeal at him or try to wake him. Boy, am I glad Levi is such a deep sleeper!

The beginning of November I tried a new adventure: making juice. Sam and his dad were doing sprinkler blowouts, and one house had tons of grapes. After some confusion, and assuring the wife that I was a neighbor and that we had met over the phone, I picked 18 gallons of grapes. My friend, Laurie, loaned me her steamer and Sam and I spent an evening learning the fine art of making grape juice. After getting the hang of it, the process is really quite simple. And the juice is delicious!!!! (P.S. The grapes were so heavy, my colander was broken all to pieces. Now I have a nice, heavy metal one!)

The last day of November, we trimmed our tree. Levi and Brinley were big helps and then we carried on our tradition of having donuts and chocolate milk. This year we added egg nog as well. I can't believe how much my family (me excluded) LOVES egg nog.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Our October

Alright... so in the same spirit as the last post, here is what we did in October at the Clements' household. Enjoy! (Oh, p.s., you'll have to click on the collages to make them bigger.)

I got two boxes of apples (about 30-40 lbs. each) for $10 a piece. So we spent a couple of days canning apples and making apple butter. The whole family helped out, and it was quite the production. Brinley loved pulling the apples out of the boxes and taking a bite... just one bite out of each apple. Silly girl. Levi was a pro at working the apple peeler/corer/slicer. Sam helped out with everything, and in the end we ended up with more apples than we'll probably use in a year. Also, I just have to give a shout out to my stove. Having 6 elements is a huge help with a project like this!
Brinley loved to be under our table. Now she is too tall... well, kinda... Anyway, I was the same way and have a picture of me under the table when I was a baby. Brinley wasn't so cooperative and this was the best shot I got. Brinley reminds me of me in so many ways: she looks like me, she walked early like me, and she loves to climb-- just like me!
We have several pictures of Levi sleeping in funny positions and we had zero pictures of Brinley sleeping. This is because Brinley is not a great sleeper. If we tried to take pictures, she would surely wake up and then we'd spend way too much time trying to get her back to sleep. With that in mind, I thought I'd better snap a picture of this: sleeping with daddy.
Brinley was done with her car seat and I was done with Levi being a slow poke following me around Walmart. So I made a little switcheroo. We got quite a few laughs and comments from fellow shoppers:

Like I said before, Brinley is a climber. She loves to climb up this stool, stand there for a minute, and then screams for me to come get her down. Oh, how to answer when people ask me what I do all day!
Brinley with cousin Kamora
We went to my nephew Nate's soccer game, and the whole time I had to hold Levi back from running onto the field. Honestly, he'd be just as good as the 5 year olds out there, but he wasn't on the team so of course I couldn't let him. :) So after the game, Uncle Joe took Levi out on the field and kicked the ball around with him. What a great uncle Joe is! Levi shot a scored a few goals. (Great uncle... not a great goalie. Just kidding!)
Ahh... October was the month that Levi learned to play computer games. Hmm... the explains why I didn't do much blogging since then (before then... I have no excuses...). Levi went from only knowing how to click the one button when I told him to, to being able to play several games completely on his own and totally navigate the Nick Jr website in just 2 or 3 days. It is incredible how fast he learned to use the mouse.
Brinley loves pasta. Here she is eating ravioli. Yummy yummy sauce!
Who doesn't love a rocking chair?
Levi was pushing Brinley up and down the hallway in his giant Tonka truck. That toy was a great purchase. Brinley now climbs in the back of the truck and screeches at us until we push her around.
Wahoo for fall! It is seriously one of my favorite things. I raked up a big pile of leaves and let Levi go to town. He mostly kicked his football through the leaves instead of jumping in the pile. Brinley did not love sitting in the leaves, but she sure looked cute. (Token picture of me in the upper right corner to prove I was there. Thanks Levi for knowing how to use a camera!)
I love my little pumpkin!
Sam's sister Becky and her family came for Halloween. It was super nice outside, so we headed to the park. Here are some pictures from that outing.

Every kid loves to throw rocks in the water. Here's Levi and cousin Isaiah (he's Levi's same age).
Isaiah, Levi, Eric, Eli, and Becky
For a while there, Levi didn't go anywhere without a football or two. Not even to bed.

Halloween! Brinley was a pink leopard. Levi was... well that's a funny story. First Levi was supposed to be a knight, but the outfit I bought him on clearance last year was WAY too small. Poor kid. Then he was supposed to be a tiger, but he didn't want to and pouted until we took off the costume. I also tried to make him a mini-Sam (I dressed him up in one of Sam's shirts and ties), but he hated that too. So, we gave up. A few minutes later, Levi came out of his room with a green hat, golf club, and golf ball. So he went as a golfer. Oh, I guess he was also Lightening McQueen for 5 minutes. Another little boy at Trunk or Treat wouldn't wear his costume either (seems to be a theme there...), so Levi tried it on for size. I was a "fairly good mother." Sam was "the good father." Also pictured is Arina (Sam's youngest sister). She went as Cleopatra.
Brinley loved the chocolate... another way that she's like me!

And now for the videos:

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Levi can be such a spectacular big brother sometimes!
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