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Monday, July 30, 2012

Wild Imaginations

"Mom, the boys are playing stupid games.

Right now they are pretending their parents are dead 
and they're monkeys with super powers 
who are trying to break into a city. 


She shook her head in disappointment and walked away muttering,
"Why can't they do something fun, like play with dolls?

Oh the complaints I hear from Sarah during the long days of summer.

Daniel certainly looks full of mischief- his head is brimming with schemes!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

When Hearts Fail

I needed to hear this message of peace this week. 

It blessed me, so I wanted to share it with you.

This message is for everyone, no matter what church you attend.

I hope your Sabbath day is delightful.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Starry Night

Mr. Kingsley and me enjoying Temple Square in Salt Lake City
Last night I had a hot date with my sweetheart.* 

We strolled arm-in-arm down rows of colorful paint and tools at Lowes. 

Ah.....the joys of running errands without children! (Actually, I love him so much it doesn't ever matter WHERE we go on dates. Any time together is magical. The setting and scenery are usually inconsequential as long as I get to intertwine my fingers with his.)

I should clarify that I adore our Littles and spend my life serving them, but it's honestly still  a treat to get away from the chatter and squeals and (usually chaotic) noise.

We enjoyed a dinner of Mexican street tacos after shopping for our ongoing home improvement projects.

I love the way he opens doors for me- whether we are on a date or not. I love being married to a gentleman!

He never fails to make me feel like royalty as he helps me into the car and presses my fingers tenderly to his lips before he closes the door.

On the ride home the stars were so breathtaking.

I love living far away from any towns. The night sky is unbelievable. I always squint my eyes, as if that can help me see even more of the stars that are just beyond my view in the darkness.

 I rolled down the window and stuck my head out, feeling the wind whip my hair away from my smiling face. It was exhilarating. The dark silhouettes of trees and fields zipped past me, making a blur of shapes.

I closed my eyes and felt the wind dance on my skin. It was so tempting to yell into the dark, "I love you, Texas!"

Life is good.

(*The picture has nothing to do with our date....I just liked it and wanted to share.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A love affair to remember

Diego discovered a new passion in life: the watermelon. 

(Rubbing my hands in a sinister fashion: 
The first taste is always he's hooked for life! Mwahahaha!)

We had a picnic for dinner in the Idaho countryside

. Dutch-oven style: BBQ beef, roasted vegies, and baked brownies. 

Imagine this picnic on the Muir farm, 
surrounded by tall pines (or spruces, or whatever they are) 
with the scenic foothills in the distance. 
Birds serenaded in the fading light.
The sunset was breathtaking and the air was cool. 
(I do miss the spectacular Idaho sunsets!)

The children laughed and played on the swings while the adults ate and played games. 

One game we played was a "Getting-to-know-you-AGAIN" game. 

You know, because even though we're related we still don't see each other very often.

Here's how it works- each person is assigned another family member to introduce (preferably assign them a person they don't know very well.). They can ask everyone else (other than their assigned person) for any details to use in the introduction.

It's a great activity for breaking the familial ice after years of being apart. 

It was also very wonderful to hear what everyone thinks of each other. I discovered a lot of talents and character strengths in other people that I hadn't noticed previously. 

It was such a great activity to strengthen our friendships. Everyone felt loved by the group. 

(I'll confess, it also fed my self-esteem.)

One last parting note- don't let your Littles eat just watermelon for dinner. 

You'll regret it and so will he. Just sayin'.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lakeside birthday party

Editor's note: In honor of my sweet husband, the text in this post will not be centered or colored. It drives him crazy. (Laughing: see what *great* sacrifices I make for my sweetheart?)

Does colored or centered text bother you as well? I'm curious!) 

We celebrated my niece's birthday at Rigby Lake in Idaho. It's a crisply cold lake with sandy beaches (although I suspect they trucked in the sand to create the beach- I'm sure it's not native!) and beautiful soft grass fields (Can I mention here how much I LOVE the soft grass of northern climates? I revel in its sweet smell and soft texture on my bare toes. I lie on it luxuriously every time I visit the Northern States. Imagine making a snow angel...that's what I do on Idaho grass!)

We were surrounded with delicious picnic food, a colorful pinata, bubbles dancing on the wind, rainbow birthday cake, a watermelon sculpted like a shark (what awesome skills my sibs have!), and sandcastles.

Oh, and sand. In everything.
Sarah and Matthew swam completely across the lake with their Aunt Lisa and Uncle Blaine. I was impressed, so they repeated this feat several times during the afternoon.

As for me, after one curious toe-dipping test in the water, I quickly retreated up the beach far away from the water's edge. The water was C-O-L-D. 

I was happy to sit with some of my sisters on the sand and watch the action from afar. Cold water is really not my thing!

Diego happily ate a lifetime supply of silica while exploring the beach. I did my part by keeping him out of the, lakeweed?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Feeding the Flocks

What do you do on a Sabbath day during a family reunion? 

After attending church with my parents we skipped over to the beautiful Idaho Falls temple.

After touring the temple grounds and Visitors Center, we headed across the Snake River to play.

We came armed with bags of popcorn to feed the flocks of geese.

My mind is full of frequent memories feeding these flocks throughout my childhood. 

I has such a sentimental stroll down memory lane while I watched my own children enjoy feeding these birds.
After arriving home, we gathered around the piano and sang sacred hymns.

It was so peaceful and so invigorating to hear our voices combine in harmony and swell heavenward with songs of praise. 

My heart was so full today.

Read more about the blessings of LDS temples here.

Touring the Temple

I look forward to visiting the LDS temples whenever we go on vacation.

They are my favorite places on Earth.

My heart is full when my children get to be near a temple.

I love sitting inside, soaking up all the spiritual strength like a little sponge.

It's hard to rip myself away from it anytime we visit.

Words literally can't express my deep feelings about the temple. (Ironic sentence, isn't it?)

I truly wish I could bring all of you to feel what it's like inside. 

All of life's pressing problems are placed in perspective and I feel tangibly surrounded with God's love.

It's beyond description.

For more, watch this video about our temples:

Read more about why we have temples here and here.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Families in a Farmers Field

alfalfa field, Idaho Falls, Idaho farm, family reunion pictures, silly family picture, Kingsley family,
Sunburned, tired, and dirty from a full day of play.

 This is my family. 

Oh how I love them!

We had to take pictures to celebrate the first time in several years that we were all together. 

My siblings are located in Washington, North Carolina, North Dakota, and everywhere in between. 

With me in Texas, that makes us literally scattered to the four corners of the country. 

This reunion was a big deal.

PS- I love the backdrop. This is my parent's alfalfa field. Isn't it gorgeous?

PPS- I love this video about families. I hope you enjoy it. 

After that, go enjoy your family.

Tie Dye Fun

My brother shared an interesting 
family reunion equation with us:

25 Relatives  
25 white shirts
 1 Tie-dye kit 

A lot of fun

Here are pictures with my sibs
 and our snazzy threads. 
tie-dye, tiedye, tie-die, reunion ideas, family reunion craft, family activity

Don't be jealous of our style. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Horseplay in Idaho

Horses are always a highlight of any trip to visit Grandma and Grandpa Muir. 

After watching the Littles (that's what I call our children) have their fun, I was eager for a try.

I laced up riding boots and climbed into the saddle, happily inhaling the rich smell of saddle leather.

Visions of a peaceful jog through picturesque pastures danced in my mind as I gathered the reins and began to ride. 

I quickly found out this horse preferred children to adults. 

My ride (if it can be even called as much) lasted less than 5 minutes. 

She definitely did NOT want me on her back. 

After lots of tight circles and jumping starts and battles of will,  I was sufficiently frightened to hop off again.

My communion with nature ended in sheepishness (pun totally intended) as I handed the reins back to my Dad and let him take charge of this stubborn creature. 

For the remainder of our visit, I was happy to hand-feed her sweet grass and admire her from afar.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Rejuvenating summer

Cousins fly a kite on the Muir farm in Idaho

Isn't that picture beautiful?

Rolling farmland reaches for a clear blue sky.

It makes my heart sing.

This is where we spent a week visiting grandparents and cousins.

I'll be posting snippets of our recent vacation over the next week or so.

Highlights include:

A long-awaited reunion with far-flung family, 

a sweaty struggle to conquer a mountain,

tears as we pushed our physical limits to achieve something I've dreamed about for months,

epic sword fights (yes, you read that correctly),

and exciting explorations to wondrous new places.

The best vacations bring me home motivated to be a better person

and strengthened to reach for my goals.

This vacation was perfect.

I'm so ready to jump in the ring!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Boredom Buster

Sarah's rainbow toes
We played the nail polish game again this week. Don't those toes look so playful? I love it!

My kids found a book in our family library called "365 Things to Do when You're Bored."

 I thought it was a great thing as they started doing science experiments in the kitchen. 

After making several batches of unidentifiable colored liquids, crystals, and goop, the kitchen looks like a food-colored bomb exploded. 

 At least they mopped the floor...which actually saves me the hassle of doing it myself. 

Their hands are all dyed dark blue. 

The "blue goop" experiment is now officially banished from my house.

Monday, July 9, 2012

72 hour kit for a toddler

I updated our family 72-hour kits this month. 

What foods did I find to pack for a toddler?

He wouldn't be able to handle most of the foods we packed into the adult bags. 

MREs would surely overload his little digestive system with food that is too rich and high in calories.

This is what I came up with:

One day of emergency food for a toddler 72-hour kit
Clockwise from the top:

                       Instant oatmeal is baby-friendly and easy for him to eat at breakfast.

Cheerios are for snacking between meals. I placed them in a re-used plastic container to prevent them from becoming a mountain of crumbs in the pack.

Next are organic wheat crackers. We really love the Annie's brand bunny crackers from Costco. They are healthy and perfect for snacking. Each day has a different variety of flavors.

Freeze-dried fruit is perfect for emergency kits. It's healthy, delicious, compact, and has a long shelf life.

Squeezable applesauce is portable and mess-free. We really like the GoGo Squeeze brand, also purchased from Costco. We stocked a few different flavors each day for variety.

HappyTot brand makes great squeezable baby foods. Here is where I incorporated servings of vegetables and meats. 

Last is a meal-replacement shake. I was thinking this could make up for any nutritionally deficient areas in the daily diet. My plan is to pour it into a sippy cup or bottle (which is packed into his kit already) to reduce spills. 

I packed more food than I thought he could eat each day so there was a large variety of foods for him to choose from. 

Toddlers get so distressed easily so I wanted to have plenty of foods to tempt his appetite. 

The meal-replacement shake was really my insurance that he would get some vitamins if he refused other foods. He loves almost anything we serve in a bottle or sippy cup, so I tried to pack in as much nutrition as possible there.

I really love the concept of squeezable food for emergencies.

I think it would be hugely stressful to try to spoon-feed a baby while evacuating by car or staying in a crowded shelter. 

Hopefully this gives you an idea of how you can tailor your kit to match your family needs. 

Happy prepping!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bath time and dress up for a date

bathing babies, baby tub, bath time for infants
Diego loves taking a bath.
Last week we played dress-up with friends. I'm not kidding. 

While I have no pictures for proof, we all dressed up as fantasy characters and played games. 

I love date nights at home.

Our friends brought some yummy homemade ciabatta. 

We whipped out our collection of gourmet oils and vinegar to savor with the ciabatta.

Nathan and I purchased these goodies on a date in St. Louis to the Vom Fass store.

The store is lined with casks of delicious oils and vinegars for shoppers to sample.

They give you beensy spoons wherein they mix different flavor combiniations for your sampling pleasure.

It's one of the funnest places I've been for a date.

Have you ever had pumpkin seed oil mixed with apple vinegar? 

How about hazelnut oil drizzled over raspberry vinegar? 

Oh heavens, it's delicious. 

I love his green tub. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Matthews turn in the spotlight

Matthew's turn in the spot light:

He adores math. It's one of his hobbies. (I didn't know math could be a hobby until now.). When he is bored he begs us to give him mental math problems to solve. He taught himself how to divide, multiply, and figure out square roots. For his birthday the only thing he wanted was a calculator of his very own. He will sit on his own and solve math equations for fun.

He's very artistic and has a knack for creating art. He loves to paint and sculpt.

He creates amazing sculptures out of 'found items' around the house. He constructs so many wondrous things. He and Sarah built a teeny Indian village out of bits of twigs, grass, pebbles, and leaves. They build a beensy campfire pit in the village with a spit suspended over the fire pit. On the spit hung a perfect little pot made by twisting grass around an acorn cap. He's so fantastic at thinking outside the box and inventing new things.

He begs me to read aloud to him at night. Right now we are reading a gripping and funny fantasy called "Heir Apparent". I recommend it whether you have kids or not. It's unique and well-written and very entertaining. It's definitely a keeper in our family library.

Matthew and the sensai slice cake with a samurai sword.
For his birthday we celebrated at a local martial arts dojo. (I won a free party package there, so we gave it to Matt.) They let him wear an honorary black belt (his mouth just about hit the floor when they put it on him). They let him cut the cake with a samurai sword (I bet the sword craftsman would cringe to know how his masterpiece was degraded to be used as a prop!). 

He has a heightened sense of justice and takes it upon himself to regulate the affairs of the populace around him. That can be a blessing and a curse...

He is such a great big brother. He reads to Daniel and Diego. He dances to make Diego laugh. He builds luxurious blanket forts and cushion palaces for Daniel to rule over and play in. 

Last week he turned his bedroom into a pioneer museum. He collected items from around the house and arranged them into displays. 

He turned his bed into a covered wagon and stocked it for a trip across America.

The other exhibits included pioneer clothing (from our re-enactment days), pioneer games, typical pioneer foods, and a collection of  appropriate books (clever boy, he even remembered to include Charles Dickens and Jane Austen alongside the pioneer trail journals we own!)