Thursday, April 28, 2011

Badgers at Home

Here are Ian's locks before they got all chopped off. They were cute like this, but of course, they never looked this way outside of the tub.
Here is our cobb salad dinner after the last session of conference. I think I've done this dinner at this time before. I don't know what it is about the good word of the gospel, but it sometimes whispers "cobb salad" to me at the end of a nice long weekend of general conference.
After dinner we headed out to the beach to try catching a sunset. It was okay, but nothing amazing like the ones our friend Aaron Rutman catches on his camera. You can peruse his website here. I have ordered a couple of his prints that are now hanging in my dining room and they have definitely raised the bar for my expectation of a San Diego sunset.

Size Matters!

I never knew that there was this little nook at the zoo that I haven't seen yet. It's been around forever, and I was really impressed by the awesome reptiles that we saw there. First of, the Komodo Dragon - super cool! I don't think I've ever seen a 4-legged reptile this big before. I've only heard of them/seen them before on a coloring page, but who knew that there'd be such a random and awesome creature at OUR zoo?
After seeing this at the zoo, we found a library book entitled Komodo! by Peter Sis that Brooklyn is loving thanks to this live encounter. The book also has some interesting facts, which of COURSE I will share with you all because I know you're dying to hear them! (Wink,wink! Skip ahead if you're bored already.)
Komodo Monitors/ "Dragons"...
1. Are giant monitor lizards with bodies that can be up to 9 feet long and weigh 300 pounds.
2. Are the sole survivor s of the carnivorous dinosaurs that thrived in tropical Asia 130 million years ago. They are considered to e the last of their kind inhabiting the world today. They are extinct everywhere except on the island of Komodo (in Indonesia)
3. Can go up to 1 1/2 months without water.
4. Can kill water buffalo 15 times their weight. They often strike their prey with their tails.
5. Unlike other reptiles, their body temperature remains uniform day and night.
6. Have a lifespan of about 50 years.
7. Shed their skin in February.
8. Can maneuver in so many ways! They are swift runners. They also swim, dive, dig, walk on two feet (now this I'd love to see!) and climb.

Another fun find: The Galapagos Turtles. From the Zoonooz magazines, I've read that several decades ago, children were allowed to actually pose for pictures on the shells of the real turtles here at the zoo. Now they only have some bronze statues for more animal-friendly photo ops. Brooklyn shares her shades with one such below.

Don't these kids look so innocent and loving? You'd never guess that we rushed out of the house that morning to divert any continued contention between the two of them.
Apparently, the different shells identify the islands from which each of the turtles came.
Speaking of larger than life animals, these turtles are huge too! Their shells can measure up to 6 feet long and 4 feet wide, and the whole animal can weigh 600 pounds. Beyond that, they can live up to 150 years. Some of the fellas here are already over 100 years old! They are the top herbivore on the volcanic islands where they live and they don't have much competition for food!
Amazing that something so OLD and slow moving can be such a "top dawg" in his neck of the woods!
We also checked out some other lizards and geckos. Of course it was exactly noon, so the sun was blazing overhead and consequently, the shadows were sharp and telling. Here's one, it's called "Desi looks like a total tourist."
The kids didn't mind the heat though, they were mesmerized by even the seemingly every-day desert-dwelling reptiles. You've gotta feel for us though, we're "suffering" at anything above 80 degrees here.
Oh, so I did include that picture of the Galapagos Turtle sign! It's basically my source for the facts listed a few photos back.
There was also another indoor hall of more reptiles. I love the Holly Hobby (is that what the 80's doll with the bonnet, or am I confusing it with the craft store in Louisiana?) look that Ian is sporting here.
Aaaah! The zoo. We call it our classroom away from home!

Odds and Ends

On St. Patrick's Day this year, I decided to dye the oatmeal green. The kids have not stopped asking to dye their oatmeal EVERY morning now. Of course, they want to select the colors themselves and man the droppers. I am anticipating some "accidentally" dyed clothing or other body parts. So far, they've only come away with pigmented fingertips. Finally this week I tried to regulate this dying business and am only allowing it Tues/Thrs/Sat. I am such a party pooper!

Below is a total different meal story...
While Stephen was conferencing/vacationing in Chicago, the kids and I really tried to "live it up" by having super fun dinners. Examples: corndogs one day, waffles another, mac and cheese another, and some RANDOM combination of things that Brooklyn came up with to go along with the corndogs. Here we have celery with cream cheese and strawberries and raisins. The ketchup is for the corndog, yet awfully close to that gingersnap cookie. Bordering the other side of the corndog is a strawberry between a bunch of raisins and craisins. Watch out Bobby Flay!
Here's the kids with my completed diaper bag project for Rebecca just outside the post office before we mailed it off. Now I finally feel like I have appropriately thanked her for watching my kids last summer while Stephen and I gallivanted around Yosemite. ;)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

'Tis the Season

Of the STRAWBERRY! I love these little gems, especially when they go on crazy sale for less than a dollar a pound! I always tell myself that I'm going to make some strawberry jam with them, but they never last long enough for me to break out all the gear for that process. Either that or I'm just too lazy - probably the latter! Pictured below is one of my flavorite snacks! Toast with peanut butter, sliced fresh strawberries, and honey. Yum!
Here are some interesting facts that I learned about strawberries:
1. They are beach bums! They thrive in areas with mild temperatures between 55 and 78 degrees.
2. California harvests 83% of the strawberries grown in the U.S. on 24,500 acres. Florida is the second largest producing state with 5,000 acres.
3. Strawberries are "early risers" or one of the first fruits to bloom in the spring. Their peak season is April - June. During this time, up to 10 million pint baskets are shipped daily.
4. They are most people's favorite fruit. Respondents to a recent national survey labeled strawberry lovers as "health conscious, fun loving, intelligent and happy." Non-strawberry lovers, on the other hand, were described as "weird, boring, stuffy--picky, fussy eaters who avoid healthy foods."
5. They are not considered true berries because they carry their seeds on the outside unlike blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Each strawberry contains, on average, about 200 of these yellow "seeds" on their exterior.
6. Strawberries are a good source of folic acid (dig in, pregnant ladies!), fiber, and potassium.
7. American Cancer Institute suggests that strawberries may reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
8. Strawberry juice combined with honey will reduce inflammation or sunburn.
9. Strawberries have long been associated with love and flirtation. In France, they are traditionally served at wedding breakfasts with a soup of thinned sour cream and powdered sugar.

You can read more interesting facts and find my source from here.

A Day at the Races

Recently, our primary held a car race activity.
After a few hours of carefully wrapping this cardboard in cheap gift-wrapping paper, I thought I had a decent looking toy car. When we arrived, we had another thing coming!
Can I just say that all of the most creative parents in the world live in my ward? Seriously. This is ridiculous! I tried to talk the "competition" out of this whole affair with Brooklyn as we built the car, but nothing could have prepared me for the mighty masterpieces that awaited us in the cultural hall that day. We had a bat mobile, a Hummer with real head and tail lights, a couple of old classic cars, a Ferrari, a Jeep, and a fire engine.
There were not a few, but many cars that were built with great detail and assembled to look like real models of existing cars! A few of them were made mostly by the children and even those were pretty impressive!
This just is one small example of how our creation stacked up against the others. Here we have scale-models of a Ferari and a Jeep! I really should have used a glue gun and spray paint. It was so much more effective, as shown here! After this activity I actually realized that I don't own a glue gun. How did that ever happen? I feel somewhat crafty, how can I truly not own a glue gun?
Do you love the personalized license plates that this brother and sister had? Even the license plate frames were customized. Max's read, "Italian Stallion" and Lia's was something about a princess in training.
Here the cars are at the "drive in" movie theater. They watched a movie/slideshow of themselves. Can you see the fire engine in the back corner?
Here Ian is donning one of those "cool cars."
You've gotta love the flames escaping from the exhaust pipes!

This and That

These boys rock my world! Can you spot the blue car? Love it. And them.

The next picture shows that I don't just bake. Really, it's true! I only document my baking more often than my regular stuff. So here it is, one of my latest favorites, white chili. Big and little white beans, chicken, chili, corn, chicken broth, green chilies, and some cilantro make this flavorful and nutritious. Toppings: sour cream and cheese. We can't forget to add some fat! :)
Here's another crowd-pleasing favorite: ham and veggie mac 'n' cheese. See the spinach and carrots mixed in with the shell shaped noodles? Yum! (I think this picture was taken on the day it was eaten as a left-over. Less dishes, even better than the first round!)


This is what my kitchen filled up with on the eve of a very important birthday! We had cupcakes up to our ears! Some for preschool, then more for the "friend party." I can't imagine how many cupcakes we'll be pumping out this time NEXT year!

Brooklyn's Birthday Bash

Brooklyn celebrated her 5th birthday way back in March with some fun friends, games, and treats at a park. This was her very first "friend" birthday. She may need to wait another 5 years for the next one. Thank you Mom and Pip for driving down and thank you Claire (my cousin) for helping out!

We enjoyed some good ol' duck, duck goose.
I had a just a tiny bit of fun. Here I'm tagging Tate as the "goose!"
Brooklyn explained some of the rules to a game while her friends eagerly listened. Future teacher???
We had to do the traditional McKendrick birthday treasure hunt.
The treasure included gummy bears and other small treats in good ol' brown paper lunch bags.
Ian thought he was big stuff mingling with all the older kids.
Plenty of sweet treats for all!
Brooklyn here is carefully guarding the flame of her #5 candle.

This is the look of, "Hold me!" We were all partied out!