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Monday, December 15, 2008

Pioneer Farms

What a crazy day! I had a face painting job early in the morning so I picked up a baby sitter before breakfast and ran straight to my job at a fitness center. I've never seen such a posh place for people to sweat. It actually bothered me. It was literally a mall full of shops and spas and restaurants all centered around fitness ideals. It was HUGE. I worked there for 3 hours, it was a nice gig.

Heading straight to tithing settlement, where Nathan had been all day, we spent the afternoon waiting for our turn to see the bishop. I could barely stay awake. The kids enjoyed talking to our bishop and getting to pick candy out of his candy jar. They were so proud of their tithing invoices and they were pleased when the bishop proclaimed them to be full tithe-payers.

Next stop, our friends house. We keep most of our chickens on their farm due to city restrictions for our property. It's time to slaughter some of them. The roosters are mature and the rooster we keep in our yard is a public nuisance promptly at 5:30am each morning. I don't mind his crowing, in fact I really like it. I am worried that our neighbors will hate us, so I had to chase him around the yard each morning so I could put him in a box to shut him up. If he can't stand up all the way and stretch out his neck, he can't crow. So we'd put him in a box until later in the day. That really had to stop. We planned on butchering him today, so we stopped by to pick up our other birds scheduled for butchering. That was fun, chasing around the coop catching 8 chickens. The real fun part was opening the box to add more birds without letting the other birds out. I couldn't help myself from proclaiming our boxed birds as "Dinner in a box". Perfect for any family!

Nathan and I culled the roosters together. That is a true bonding experience. :) I think everyone should do that with their sweetheart. Actually, it is a surprisingly humbling experience. I don't like taking the life of an animal, but since we eat the meat and really can't keep the roosters anyway, I can handle it. I think the commercial meat-processing system of America has hundreds of problems on ethical and health levels. I really prefer producing our own meat for many reasons. That's a whole discussion in itself for another time.

We love our chickens and respect them as creatures of God. I really appreciate the kind of man Nate is. Each time we caught a rooster, he'd hold it and stroke it, talking to it softly and thanking it for being such a good bird. Then he'd kill it so it died quickly with minimal trauma. I really respect that. I think it's a rare thing to have a man that respects an animal's life and can be so gentle in it's death.

I had never been so involved with the butchering process in the past. Usually Nathan did it with a friend. This time I was there from start to finish. Processing each bird really doesn't take long. It takes about 15 minutes per bird to go from slitting the throat to putting it in the freezer. Surprisingly, our hen Cinderella came and watched the entire process, eagerly eating the entrails that were thrown aside. She wasn't bothered at all, and even became impatient with us. She came up to the carcass we were working on and tried to take a peck of it right on the chopping block! What a lady.

I love the results of our experience...I always am humbled and increasingly thankful for our blessings. I am so thankful for our food and I am more careful with how I use meat, regardless of it's animal of origin. I think people are so often wasteful with our food in America, and I really cherish every morsel after going through this experience. I realize what a sacrifice animals make for our diets and feel compelled to eat the meat with reverence and appreciation. It's almost a spiritual experience for me to partake of the meat afterwards.

On a side note, when the feet are severed from the body, the tendons often protrude a little bit from the end. You can tug on the tendons and make the toes curl up. I took a foot inside to show the children and explain how tendons work. Nathan was sure the kids would be disgusted. Much to my surprise, they were delighted and each one wanted a turn to tug a tendon. They laughed and delighted, especially Matthew. I think they would have loved to play with it for much longer if I had let them. If you ever butcher a chicken, give it a try. It's really fun! Really.

Literally 5 minutes after finishing up the third bird, we headed off the the next activity.

We volunteered to be historical actors for a pioneer log cabin in a historical park. It was so fun! We arrived and dug through period costumes to find things that fit. We all had on pioneer costumes except Daniel...they didn't have sizes that small.

We were supposed to start and maintain a pit fire all night so visitors could sit by the fire and sing carols as they passed through. Sarah and I were in charge of cocoa and cookies. We had crock pitchers to haul water in. The well was 50 yards into the woods behind the house. She was such a great help, lugging the heavy pitchers back and forth. They didn't carry much water, less than 2 quarts, so we had to make many trips throughout the night. We'd pour the water in a big dutch oven suspended above the fire so we could heat it for cocoa.As darkness fell, it was harder and harder for me to venture out to the well. The woods were extremely dark and we had no lights for me to take. The candles and gas lamps stayed with the guests to light the cabin. I wouldn't be able to carry the light anyway, since both hands carried pitchers. I was so scared that I'd only be able to force myself to stay at the well until the pitchers were half full, then I'd run as fast as I could back to the fire. I didn't care that this meant I had to go back twice as often.....I'm a real baby in the dark. Nathan can tell lots of stories about that, I'm sure.

The cabin was so fun. There were rag dolls and a cradle to play with and wooden toys for the kids to enjoy. We played in there by candlelight and had a great time. Nathan brought his harmonica, so his beautiful music filled the air, mingling with the crackling sounds from the fire. It was so adventurous and peaceful and fulfilling. Sarah really enjoyed playing hostess, arranging cookies on wooden platters for the visitors. I took Sarah and Daniel around the village on the hayride during the night to visit the other houses. The Victorian house was hosting a party for a group of Civil War-Ear historical re-enactors. The men were in military uniforms and the women had hoop skirts and beautiful ball gowns. There was a music group playing period music on a dulcimer and fiddle and everyone was dancing and chatting. It was like I stepped into a movie! It was SO beautiful and so much fun. Sarah and I went around the house peeking in all the rooms admiring all the dresses. The women all made the dresses themselves. We also let Sarah play a pump organ in the house. She really enjoyed that. We saw several shooting stars during the hay ride. It was so neat!

When the children became tired around 9:30, they were able to crawl into the feather bed in the cabin. They were so delighted to sleep on straw pillows. Matthew couldn't stop giggling about his pillow. It was such a novelty for him. They burrowed under the quilts and I told them stories until they fell asleep. They were so filthy at the end of the night! Dirt and soot covered their hands, but they had so much fun it was worth it. We had so much fun the entire night, we decided to become regular volunteers for the park. I'm really looking forward to going back, and so are the children. They've already asked me how soon we get to go back.

This is Matthew stringing popcorn for the tree in one of the homestead cabins. They had lots of fun...we do this activity at home every year, but for some reason it's more fun by candlelight.

He also tried his hand at pumping water for hot cocoa. He's not in costume in this picture because we went as visitors to the park the night before we volunteered.

Daniel enjoying the hay ride between houses. This was his favorite part. He kept begging me to take him repeatedly. Each time it came around to our property, Daniel could hear it around the corner in the woods and he'd run up to me screaming, "Hayride is coming! Hayride is coming!"

Nathan played his harmonica much of the evening and I still wanted more. He really looked the part in his costume. Most of the pictures I took of him didn't turn out since the firelight didn't give enough lighting. This was a rare shot I caught with the flash when there were no visitors.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sarah's first ballet

We went on a home school field trip to the Nutcracker Ballet performed by Ballet Austin. It was such a fun experience to share! The boys were too young to be admitted, so they spent the day with friends in the country and I took our friends' two daughters with us.

I love the ballet and it's my personal favorite way to spend a date night. Unfortunately, it's out of my regular budgeting range for dates, so we do it only once a year or so. This trip was specifically for schools and home schoolers, so tickets for children were only $4 and mine was half-price. What a treat!

The performance was astounding and I always feel an intense thrill and exhilaration when I watch ballet dancers and feel the beauty of the classical music swell around me. It's such a high for me and I get emotionally involved in the performance every time. It was a priceless experience to watch Sarah's face as the performance progressed. She was giddy and smiling huge grins in delight. She'd glance at me sideways frequently and smile, just happy to share the moment. Her favorite part of the ballet was the end, where Clara wakes up in bed and finds the nutcracker there on her pillow.

I always feel such amazement at the ballet. It's incredible that the human body can create such beautiful always makes me so in awe of the creation a human body is. I feel increased gratitude for my own body, and I'm very humbled at the thought that Heavenly Father would grant me my very own body. It's such an intricate creation and so beautiful.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas letter

This is for all you who I don't have addresses for. I love reading other people's Christmas letters. If you don't enjoy it, then skip this post. :)

Dear family and friends,

Well, Nathan quit his job of 6 years at National Instruments, we sold our house and are moving to a commune in Texas to grow organic food, raise animals, and live in peace with the universe. Ok, maybe not . . . changed our minds once we realized there was no indoor plumbing. Anyway we wanted to start this letter with something more interesting than the obligatory "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!" (Oops! It still got in!).

For those of you thinking, “Renae, your Christmas letter is the most exciting part of our Christmas and we look forward to it with glee and anticipation”--you flatter me too much! Ok, this section's for you, the usual facts of the kids, animals, highlights of the year- or as Nathan says, “the blah blah blah part”. You're welcome to skip this part and jump to the “with love” part if you like.

Sarah- turned six and chose to go to the Children's Museum for her birthday. She's doing home school and piano lessons this year. Her first recital was this year, she played 'O Come All Ye Faithful'. She loves reading and art, and is always begging me to give her art lessons. She's been very responsible this year. An example was when I left the family for a 2 week vacation. She very seriously told Nathan “Well, I packed you lunch for you. Someone has to be the Mom, so I did it. I also fed and dressed the boys.” She loves reading the American Girls and Pony Pals series.

Matthew- turned four this year and discovered that he loves math. A favorite part of the holidays for him was helping Nathan put together a 1000 piece puzzle. He was surprisingly good. He's also really developed his compassionate side this year, as shown by the number of times he's given away his toys to someone sad or given all his candy away when someone else didn't have any.

Daniel- turned two this year and cares only about trains and sugar. He's very social and is definitely a comedian. He loves the center of attention and will do anything to make people laugh. He knows he's cute, as shown recently when Nathan told Sarah that she's the cutest girl around. He replied, “No! Me cutest! Me cutest!”

Nathan- discovered talents for playing the guitar and harmonica this year. He shaved his head for Halloween so I could paint the entire surface. That was a big deal. ;) He's been so supportive of me this year, I'd be lost without him. He made a Thanksgiving meal for 20 guests this year almost single-handedly.

Renae- I started Nursing school this year and am immersed with homework and studies. I'm currently scoring straight A's. That about sums it up for me!

Animals- the count is 1 huge dog, 6 chickens, 3 giant rabbits.

Garden- dead. There wasn't time left for 'extra' hobbies after home school and my own homework.

Year highlights- Family trip to Georgia, my trip to Nauvoo and Idaho, visiting relatives, home school field trips to Sea World and Pioneer Heritage Farm.My sister lived with us for the past year before going on her mission to Japan; that was priceless.

We love you all very much! Merry Christmas!!

With love, Nathan, Renae, Sarah, Matthew, Daniel

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pictures just for fun.

This was at a large Dinosaur Dig at a nature and Science Center in Austin. We went for a field trip and learned all about animals, plants, and dinosaurs.
The digging pits were definitely the favorite part for everyone. There were 4 huge sand pits filled with cement fossils of varying size and shape. You could unearth an entire skeleton there. The area was equipped with shovels, scoops, and paintbrushes for removing the sand. It was pretty fun and it was really hard to leave.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving!

This is Nathan's favorite holiday of the year because it's the one time he can cook without restraint and abandon all moderation. As a tradition, we seek out and invite any people we can find who may be alone for the holidays or those who would otherwise not enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner. It's great fun and each year we entertain a nice blend of people with a variety of backgrounds. Our guest list this year included:

4 women from Nigeria
A friend from India

2 Mormon missionaries
a family of 5 we know via work and church

a single mother and her daughter
Shameka, Lisa's best friend
We made 100 rolls the day before Thanksgiving. It was great fun. Nathan taught the children how to form the rolls. We all had fun working together to form them.

Nathan roasted 2 large turkeys, and I must add that his recipe for turkey defies all competition. The white meat is juicy (not like the cardboard-hard and dry white meat you usually get) and the dark meat is tender (not th slimy stuff you're used to). His recipe starts 6 hours before the roasting time and everyone ALWAYS loves Nate's turkey. Even the people who usually avoid turkey found themselves getting seconds. It may have something to do with his fantastic cranberry dipping sauce, thanks to Alton Browns recipe.

The pies are a particular favorite. Nathan loves making pies. This years pie list included:

2 pumpkin (the classic)
2 pineapple cream
Black forest pie
Apple pie
Lemon Truffle

2 Paradise Isle (Lion House recipe)
Lemon Meringue
Butterscotch (I've never made butterscotch
from scratch's really not like what I expected, but delicious!)

Much to Nathan's disappointment, my favorite dessert was the Rasmalai that our Indian friend brought. It was SO GOOD! I love Indian desserts and I was so tickled with her dessert that I went b
ack for more and skipped the pies. I raved about it to her and she agreed to teach me how to make it. I'm so excited at that prospect!
This year we made nut cups for each guest as place cards. Nathan had the idea and we did a family art night to make them all. We cut out paper to make each cup into a little turkey and the kids helped us put them all together. It took too long to cut out snoods for each turkey, so I was skipping that step. Matthew was so disappointed that his turkey didn't have a snood, so we made a special-order turkey for him. We drew name tags on the turkeys belonging to the Elders. :)

I set the tables an hour before guests came, just so I wouldn't have to worry about it later. Daniel was so excited t
o eat that he promptly climbed in a chair and asked if we could say prayers yet. I explained that dinner wasn't going to start for a long time and he should go play, but he was so determined to wait it out. He sat there for 30 minutes, asking every 5 minutes if it was time to pray yet! I tried to rock him to sleep for a nap before dinner, but he was too excited to relax and he would fight to get away. When guests did show up, he fell asleep right before dinner. He was sitting up listening to us chat and his eyes just dropped and he fell asleep sitting up. Poor guy! I felt bad that he had waited so long just to miss it all anyway. He woke up at the end of dinner, so he had the table to himself while he ate.

As a family activity for FHE this month, we had the children tell us things they were thankful for and we wrote their statements on laminated leaves to decorate the tables with. Some of their statements were:

Sarah- Maps so I don't get lost. The color pink. My bedroom. Primary teachers.

Matthew- Food so I can stay alive. My parents. My stuffed monkey, Lawrence Abu Kingsley.

Daniel- Jesus. Sugar. Glue. Prayer.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I believe that all people are children of God and should be respected as such. We all have our own weaknesses and different priorities, but that in no way excuses unkind behavior towards one another.

I agree that we should tolerate other people's choices and freedom to act according their own conscious, but 'tolerance' does not mean 'agreement'. I don't have to agree with other people's choices, and the very nature of the word 'tolerance' implies a disagreement. I can still respect and serve people I disagree with, and indeed, that happens every day in my neighborhood and family. We have a homosexual couple living two houses down from us. They are kind men and I enjoy talking with both of them. We take gifts over at Christmas and bring treats around the year to them. My daughter loves playing with their dogs and one of the men literally saved an elderly neighbor's life. They are decent people and I consider them to be good neighbors. I don't agree with their lifestyle choices, but I can still respect their agency and individual worth.

Some opponents to Prop. 8 have been so full of hate and violence and that is really disturbing to me.
How is a Christian to respond to people who attack our standards in the guise of tolerance?

“To respond in a Christlike way cannot be scripted or based on a formula.
The Savior responded differently in every situation. When He was confronted
by wicked King Herod, He remained silent. When He stood before Pilate, He
bore a simple and powerful testimony of His divinity and purpose. Facing the
moneychangers who were defiling the temple, He exercised His divine
responsibility to preserve and protect that which was sacred. Lifted up upon
a cross, He uttered the incomparable Christian response: ‘Father, forgive
them; for they know not what they do' (Luke 23:34).”

Challenges to our faith are not new. Nor are they likely to go away anytime
soon. But, as Elder Hales reminds us, “True disciples of Christ see
opportunity in the midst of opposition. We can take advantage of such
opportunities in many ways: a kind letter to the editor, a conversation with
a friend, a comment on a blog, or a reassuring word to one who has made a
disparaging comment. We can answer with love those who have been influenced
by misinformation and prejudice – who are ‘kept from the truth because they
know not where to find it' (D&C 123:12). I assure you that to answer our
accusers in this way is never weakness. It is Christian courage in action.”

I know a lot of religious faiths united to pass Prop. 8. The list of supporters included Evangelicals, Catholics, Jews, Muslim, and atheists. I'm so pleased that people are starting to understand what power society has when good people of various faiths unite. I have several friends of different faiths, such as Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, and atheist. I meet twice a month at a Baptist church to support and strengthen mothers in our area. I respect our various friends and sincerely appreciate their efforts to improve society. I learn a lot from them and enjoy their friendship. We invite these friends over for game nights and parties as often as our schedules allow it. I think God sorrows when people allow religious differences to bar friendships or goodwill.

I think we'll soon discover that good people across the nation will have to unite more often to protect our basic values. I hope we won't wait until the next 'Proposition' vote comes around before we unite with our brothers and sisters in Christ(Or Allah). Invite someone over for a BBQ or strike up a conversation with someone of another faith. There's enough negativity to last a long time, what we need is more goodwill, regardless of personal beliefs. United we can change the world, just like we did this month in California.

News article worth sharing

Evangelicals Thank LDS for Proposition 8 Work, Call for Christians to Stand Against Attacks

Though Proposition 8 has caused divisiveness in California and within the Church, one incredible by-product of this campaign has been increased brotherhood and unity among Christian churches. While the LDS Church has been under attack, prominent priests, ministers, and writers—as well as common members—have come out against such attacks and shown their support of the Church.

The following blog entry, communicating such support, was recently posted by John Schroeder, a well-known Evangelical writer, on his Article VI blog:

Proposition 8 is now a part of the California constitution!

That is probably the best news from an otherwise difficult election for conservatives and Republicans. In very large part, we Evangelicals must thank our Mormon cousins for that fact. They, along with our Catholic brethren, were better organized than us and that provided a base from which we could ALL work together to get this job done What more, as we have chronicled here, Mormons took the brunt of the abuse, derision, and even threats of physical harm that came with this effort.

And like us, they have given thanks to the Almighty that is ultimately in control, even if their understanding of that Almighty is a bit different than ours.

I cannot help but wonder how much more thankful we ALL might be today if we had been more willing to embrace these religious cousins a few months ago - but alas, politics is always about governing today and looking forward to the next election.

Said John Mark Reynolds:

“In the battle for the family, however, traditional Christians have no better friends than the Mormon faithful. It would be wrong if that support were taken for granted. We are intolerant of the false attacks on Mormon faith and family. We stand with our Mormon friends in their right to express their views on the public square. We celebrate the areas, such as family values, where we agree.

“A heart felt thank you may not win points from other friends who demand one hundred percent agreement from their allies, but it is the decent and proper thing to do.

“Thank you to our Mormon friends and allies!”

Hard to do better than that. The “Ruth Youth” ministry proclaimed yesterday “International Mormon Appreciation Day.” Very appropriate, yet still inadequate.

In addition to our thanks, Mormons deserve our protection. They have been oppressed in ways during the Prop 8 campaign that this nation has not seen since the 1960’s and the civil rights movement. The rhetoric has been deplorable, but moreover. we have seen instances of vandalism, property destruction, and some leaders in the fight currently find themselves with armed protection because of the threats made against them and their families.

Our nation will not and cannot tolerate this sort of behavior - it is incumbent on all of us to stand against it, and the best way to do that is to stand between the Mormons and the forces that would perpetrate such evil.

Now I am sure the Mormons can, and probably want, to take care of themselves, but as a Christian, it is my duty to protect the innocent and free the oppressed. To turn a blind eye in this circumstance is not only ungracious, it is simply un-Christian.

Make all the theological distinctions you want, but in the political arena we are yoked with the Mormons (he said borrowing some religious imagery) and it is darn well time we started acting like it.

Absolutely, positively thank the Mormons - but don’t stop there. Stand up and be counted against the evil that has been perpetrated towards them in this campaign.

As Christians we can do no less.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Oh what do you do in the country?

We went to play in the country with some close friends of ours who also home school. We meet every week for an extended play date since we have kids all the same ages and genders. Today we played outside for hours.

They found a dying grasshopper and very solemnly constructed a burial site for it. They made a perfect little cemetery plot and laid a tulip leaf over the mound of dirt. They lined it with tiny white pebbles and made a cross headstone out of twigs. Then everyone went to search for the best flowers to adorn the grave with. It was beautiful and they were so proud of their work. It was so fun they decided to hunt down more grasshoppers just for burial! They were very serious and meticulous about the entire affair. By the end of the afternoon, there was a tiny row of grave sites all marked with crosses, pretty stones, and tiny flowers. What a fun way to pass the day!

After that they constructed a play house out of scrap wood from an old barn. They all worked together lifting and moving the large pieces of wood. They lined out the walls and garage (Matthew made the garage. He was SO proud of his work) and made a 'moat' (aka mud puddle) to deter strangers. The true entrance to avoid the moat puddle was around the back through Matthew's garage. They made a sign painted on a board, nailed that to a pole, and propped the pole vertically by stacking large rocks all around the base. They were very industrious for over an hour on this project and they were so giddy when it was finished. I was given the grand tour and each person proudly explained their contributions. I loved it! they're so excited to go back and make the house even better.

I loved watching them be creative and work as a team to make something big and fun. They had so much fun and were absolutely exhausted when we made it home! What a great way to spend the day!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I painted Nathan's head for the costume contest at work. It took an hour, but was really fun to do. I've never had such a nice canvas before! :) The children woke up this morning when I was about halfway finished and they came to see what we were doing. They giggled and pulled up chairs so they could sit and watch Dad's transformation. Matthew was so gleeful when he figured out what the painting was. I wanted to find a snorkel for Nate to wear, but we don't have one and my attempts to locate one via friends was unfruitful.That was disappointing. He didn't win the costume contest at work, although we did hear lots of exclamations everywhere we went. We went out to eat for dinner after my face painting gig that night, and we all received lots of sideways glances from other customers. :)

Matthew is so proud of his costume this year. He made it up and assembled it himself. It's a collection of all his 'hero' paraphernalia. It includes a light saber, wooden sword, batman cape, duck blanket(aka cape). He's such a creative boy. Sarah has had a tough time deciding between ballerina or butterfly, then decided on a Chinese dress. Daniel was supposed to be the Thoroughbred of Sin from Dr. Horrible, but last-minute we couldn't find the horse costume. So he ended up as a teddy bear. Matthew really wanted to be Dr. Horrible, but lab coats for Dr. Horrible have been sold out since July, so he designed his own costume and was happy.

I bought a sari from an Indian store here for my costume. I've always wanted to own one, and this is most likely the only chance of the year I'll have to wear it. I ordered some Indian jewelry online to wear with it, so that was pretty exciting and fun. Wrapping the sari is way more involved than it looks, and there's WAY more fabric than meets the eye. Maybe I'll post pics of the wrapping process, it's just interesting. And tricky. My wrapping never looks half as good as the times when the store owner does it for me. :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Face painting

This was more practice on face painting designs. I LOVE the picture of Dan looking in the mirror. It's perfect for a painting! It's definitely being put up in my front room! And believe it or not, Matt's actually SMILING in his picture....terrifying, isn't it? He still says he's going to be a hero for Halloween, although he loves this face. I asked him why he liked it and he said "It's just so fun to go scare people and then say, 'It's really Matthew, silly!!!" I love Sarah's design. It's much easier. I won't be advertising Matt's design. It took 10 minutes, which is beyond unacceptable in a face painting job. Maybe with practice I can shave it down to 5 minutes, but I still don't like promoting scary stuff.

Sea World field trip

We went to Sea World for a home school field trip this month. We had to leave our house at 5:30 am to get though Austin before the morning traffic. The children were all bundled up in blankets in the van. I hoped they would sleep so they'd be well-rested for the long day ahead, but we had friends in the van, so they were awake chatting and giggling. Long drives are always so much better with friends.

When we arrived at Sea World, the first thing we visited was the dolphins. There was a low wall around the dolphin pool so kids could lean out and put their hands down into the water. It was so amazing to watch these beautiful creatures swim so close. A friend bought fish to feed dolphins and gave a fish to each child. Sarah was so afraid of the dolphins even though she wanted to feed them. Each time one would swim up, she's pull back in fear. The poor dolphin kept trying to eat, but caught nothing each time. She finally gave her fish to me and I fed it while she touched it's nose.

Matthew loved the shark tank building. It was so neat to watch all the great white sharks swim right next to us. Aquariums are always so awe-inspiring. I love visiting aquariums! We next visited the penguin house and watched 'snow' fall out of a snow machine in the animal area. The sea lions were surprisingly loud, it was as though a loud speaker was connected to each animal. It was so fun to listen to them. I could feel the sound vibrate in my body each time they barked. After exploring all the animal exhibits, we picnicked for lunch with two other families. Daniel loved the juice boxes so much that it was a battle to convince him to eat anything else!

After dining in the shade we went to the Shamu show. It was the best part of the day! There was an educational presentation on killer whales and their habitats. The children were so raptured that they remembered everything. It was so cool watching their faces as the whales entered the pool. Unveiled delight and excitement. There were 5 whales in the show, all doing flips and leaps. We were in the spash zone so it was fun to watch the waves of water wash over the walls. It was so amazing to watch these huge animals move so gracefully, I was overcome with awe and I was so thankful to be able to observe such a beautiful creation. I just had thrills in my chest and goosebumps the entire show.

After the show we trekked across the park to the sea lion show. We sat on the third row so the kids could see everything really well. They had sea otters, a walrus, and sea lions come onstage for lessons about their body features and habitats. The walrus blew a kiss goodbye at the end of her show. Surprisingly, you could actually hear the kiss. This delighted the children. It was the best part of the show to them. The sea lions were hilarious. They did all sorts of neat tricks with a group of actors, like walking on their front flippers, diving off a high dive, and doing flips. The kids loved it when they all waved goodbye. It was such a long walk back to the van, and we were exhausted, but the day was definitely worth it. I couldn't stay awake on the 2 hour drive home, so I really wanted to drop into bed, but I had to go take an Anatomy test the minute we arrived home. I scored a 98% on the written exam. Hurrah!

Fall cookies

We made cookies to share with neighbors. It was so fun to decorate them all with the children. Sarah's strategy was to pile on as many pieces of candy as possible. Matthew was so proud of his first cookie. Daniel was surprisingly meticulous and careful, slowly licking his fingers between each application of frosting.Nathan also made pumpkin fudge to give away. It was SO delicious! Regretfully only two neighbors were home that night.... We have way too many cookies left.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Matt's Halloween face

I'm practicing face painting with a new paint medium, so I let Matthew pick any design he wanted. Leave it to a boy to pick the gruesome ones. I told him I'm never painting this one on him again. I really didn't like seeing my little boy turn into such a monster. Matthew really loved it though. It was hilarious to watch him stare at himself in the mirror, slowly moving his face in different ways to see how the makeup moved. Whenever he ran past a mirror the rest of the day, he's stop to admire his face before moving on. Luckily he wants to be a hero for Halloween, so I don't have to worry about doing another mean face. He's fashioned his own costume from our dress up box. He's so proud of it. It consists of his homemade batman cloak (with a letter 'M' on the back) and a light saber he received for his birthday last year. As far as he's concerned, this is the coolest costume on the block!

Welcome to Kingsley Corner!

I decided to do a blog....I know, I know, now I'm following the crowd. I just wanted a place to post our monthly family letters so more family and friends can access them. I also can't send pictures to everyone, so at least you can see them here.