Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Very Wet Halloween

Nana and Papa got to join us for all of our Halloween festivities this year! They started with carving and decorating pumpkins. Nana and Papa were happy to help.

We had a couple unique designs this year. Liam decided he wanted "SOAP," so Dani helped design and carve a liquid soap dispenser and the word "SOAP" in the side. Jacob made some light sabers. Claire wanted a black cat, and Jared helped carve it. Jared chose a unique pumpkin to start with. Kate made a little pumpkin and then, with Nana, made a bejeweled princess pumpkin out of a bunch of little rings she had recently gotten.

On Thursday, we had back to back parties. We started at the Precoa party, trick-or-treating around the office. The 3rd floor collaboration space was designed like a surgical room, with a crazy doctor pulling candy out of his patient. Jared was part of his department's nerd costume theme. Torin even wore his hat for a little while!

That night was the ward Halloween party. Unfortunately, Kate started feeling ill by the end of the Precoa party and didn't make it around the whole office (poor girl - she was so sad!), so she didn't go to the ward party. There was a group of volunteer superheros posing for pictures - and 3 little 4-year-old firefighters!

The kids were excited to do some trick or treating - except Torin. He wasn't ready to wear his costume!

Halloween was the first rainy Halloween we've had in Oregon (or at least that we remember). It rained hard almost the entire time we were out! When it wasn't raining hard, it was just raining. That didn't stop the kids from getting out and trick or treating, though it did end up limiting Kate's and Torin's time!


Torin found the front porch (and the pumpkins, in particular) to be more interesting than the trick or treating.

Afterwards, the kids did some candy trading. We decided that, between the Precoa party, ward party, and Halloween, Liam got the most candy (probably by 1/3!). Kate, who missed the entire ward party and big parts of the Precoa party and Halloween trick or treating, spent part of her time giving away parts of her already sparse candy to the parents and Nana and Papa.

We were so happy to have Nana and Papa join us for this fun day!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Nana and Papa surprise the kids and visit for Halloween!

Dani took Kate, Liam, and Torin on an errand to the airport, and got lost, ending up next to the airport, where a familiar gorilla and a cookie witch were awaiting. Kate and Liam figured out that the gorilla was Papa because he was wearing "a shirt that dada would wear." Torin was pretty frightened of a gorilla suddenly next to him. Nana and Papa's visit was a total surprise to Jacob and Claire when they got home from school, too.

The Cookie Witch brought Kate and Liam cookies! Mama joked with Kate that it may be dangerous to eat a cookie from a witch. Sure enough, later that day, Kate got sick.

While it was rainy for quite a bit of the time Nana and Papa were here (which seems to be par for the course), we got to play some football outside with Jacob and Liam and Papa.

Liam challenged papa to a game of chess. I don't know how papa stood a chance against Liam's rules!

It was fun for the kids to get to spend time with their Nana and Papa.

On Sunday, the kids put together adorable flannel board stories for the family. The audience loved them!


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Portland Temple

Dani took this beautiful picture of the Portland temple the other night. What a beautiful place!

Monday, October 26, 2015


We love our little Torin. We've written a few blog posts specifically about him this year, so we won't do another long one here, other than to say, he was definitely more excited about walking around than he was about taking pictures, so we were happy to get a few cute ones of him!


At family prayers, Liam will situate himself right next to Dani and start bumping her during the prayer. One day, right after the prayer was over, Dani gave him a shove that sent him flying. Liam was totally surprised, but Dani's laughter afterwards got him laughing, and now, he makes sure to kneel next to Dani for every prayer. We aren't sure if this is a good thing or not, but it is definitely part of Liam that makes him endearing and is a cute part of Liam's and Dani's relationship!
Liam seems to be building quite a fan club and following in church, work, and among other soccer and baseball parents. In the primary program, his line (which he helped come up with) was, "I know Jesus loves me because I'm a gooood guy." He was first up to the podium and gave it with gusto. We were relieved he didn't say anything about wanting to be a bad guy because Liam likes talking about bad guys!

Liam likes to add syllables to words. Star Wars, for example is Stah-woh Woh-wohs.

It is fun to watch Liam build Legos. He follows Jacob's creative example in coming up with his own designs for ships and cars (usually for some battle they are having) and in creating their Lego world. When Vicki brought over some "Mixels," a little bag of Legos with instructions to create these little characters, Liam went step by step, without any help, putting together his creation. His mind seems to be (surprisingly) ordered as he went patiently and methodically from step to step of the directions. It is a side of Liam that we don't see very often, but is definitely there.

- Food: Macaroni and Cheese (the one with butter on it)
- Book: Monster
- Game: Stratego
- Activity: Playing Wii with my buddy 
- Star Wars character: Anakin
- Best Friends: Jacob and Torin and also Bennett and Cason
- Why I love Mama: She always give me hugs when I do things she likes


Jacob has always been a 'goal-oriented' child. When he was younger, he would finish his dinner as fast as possible so he could get fruit, and then finish his fruit quickly so he could get dessert. That continues today - he is good about getting his piano practicing done, getting his homework and reading done so he can do things he wants to do (Wii, Legos, Star Wars). He will often clean up his room without being asked or ask if there's anything he can help with. All in all, it's a great negotiation tactic!

Jared describes Jacob's energy as "pouring gasoline over a fire in whatever he's doing" because he has an ability to ramp up the energy and enthusiasm. He is good

He and Liam have become really good buddies. Frequently, Jacob is the leader of the games or make believe they play, but he is always good about including his siblings.

As he has gotten older, there have been a few more, though still rare, times when he seems to need a few minutes of a break.

Jacob loves playing board games with Jared and Claire. It is fun to watch Jacob's mind work strategically. He often chooses a strategy early on and fixates on it throughout. There are times this ends up working out well for him, and other times where it works to his detriment. He certainly picks up quickly on different strategies they are discussed.

Jacob is obsessed with Star Wars! He absolutely loves the movies, the TV series, books, video games, toys, and conversations about Star Wars. 

- Food: Basically everything. Bacon Salad!
- Book: How to Train Your Dragon series
- Game: Race for the Galaxy
- Activity: Legos
- Sport: Baseball
- Star Wars character: Boba and Jengo Fett 
- Best Friends: Logan and Dax
- Scripture: Abraham 3:27 


Claire's love of reading has continued and perhaps even intensified in the last year. We often see books scattered throughout the house (including most bathrooms), all with a bookmark in them. If we can't find Claire for a while, we are sure to check the bathrooms, where she is often reading! Her favorites are science fiction books and Greek mythology.

Claire needs to be reminded to do many of the standard things is a day - getting dressed, practicing the piano or violin, completing her homework - but she is almost always good about doing them without a fuss once reminded.

Claire loves to play board games with Jared and Jacob. A recent favorite of theirs has been "Race for the Galaxy," one of Jared's favorite games. Jared enjoys discussing the strategies of the game and exploring possible strategies as they play.

Claire has started playing violin and seems to be picking up the basics pretty well.

Claire is Torin's little buddy. It was Claire's name that we first recognized Torin saying - in part because the tone of the way he would say it mimicked the way Dani would call to Claire (loudly, so we could reach into the clouds or other world Claire is regularly in). Even as Torin destroys her creations, Claire says, "It's hard to stay mad at him for long." She loves to read with him, and will be one of the first to comfort him if he is sad.

Claire has a strong logical mind. Jared has recently been challenging her with various math concepts (like multiplying and dividing fractions, exponents) and economics concepts (law of supply and demand) that are above her grade level and walking her through the reasons behind the logic through questions. These kids of things seem to make logical sense to Claire, and it is interesting for Claire to figure them out.
- Food: Butter and seafood
- Book: Whatever one is in her hand.
- Game: Pandemic
- Activity: Read and art projects
- Best Friends: Alexandra, Leslie, Liza
- Scripture Story: Samuel the Lamanite


Kate is an extravert in all senses. One of the first things she asks when she gets up every day is, "Do we have any play dates today?" If it were up to her, she would have two per day!

Kate's ability to carry a conversation is amazing. When we call the grandparents or aunts or uncles, she can carry (and sometimes dominate) the conversation. Often, she is asking questions ("how was your day?" or "what did you do today?") and being interested in the person on the other end of the conversation, and often she is telling us all about her latest costumes or about the My Little Ponies she is playing with. If she hits something she is truly excited about (see the "groupie" paragraph below), she can talk almost continually for 20 minutes or more!

Claire is our resident "groupie." She is perhaps our most enthusiastic child. Her passions include My Little Ponies, Frozen, costumes, friends, and Disney Princesses.

Kate likes to tell stories. She is especially detailed in her retelling of stories she has seen or read, whether it is a movie, TV show, or book or a story from the scriptures. Her voice inflections and little details she will throw in keep us amused throughout.

Kate is also the child that holds to the strictest bedtime schedule - not in that she needs to be in bed at a certain time or stays in bed once she's there, but more that, no matter how late we are getting the kids to bed or what we have done in the lead-up to bedtime, she believes that we must fulfill every step of the "normal" bedtime routine: read books, read scriptures, say family prayer, group hug, and one of mom or dad laying next to her, which includes discussion of the daily favorite and a story "from their mouths," followed up by a hug, kiss and a noggin. That reads like a lot - and there are nights that it feels like a lot, too, but we love her enthusiasm for wanting to be with her family!

Kate has a generous heart. She loves to make drawings for Dani to make her happy or to Jared to bring to work or for Tate or Andrea next door and delivering them. She also loves to give away some of the things she loves. For example, she has given away My Little Pony (Rarity) to a friend and a stuffed animal (Minnie Mouse) to another friend. Even though she normally ends up with the least Halloween candy, she is always offering it to Dani and Jared, especially when she hears of their favorites. At Christmas time (okay, I'm writing this a long time after October!), she sent LaShayla out the door with most of her candy from her stocking (which she kept proclaiming, "These are my favorites!") - in one of the bowls from their play kitchen! It truly seems that when she finds something she loves, she wants to share it with someone else.
- Food: Chicken
- Book: Ballerina book and Pony book
- Game: Blokus
- Movie: My Little Pony movies where evil witches are
- Costume: The one that has roses on it (Claire's dance recital dress)
- Best Friend: Tate, Kaylee, Julia
- Activity: Play with my friends and be kind
Favorite sports game: Golf
- Song: I am a Child of God
- Scripture Story: When Jesus was resurrected

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Family Pictures

When we first started taking pictures with Kate, it seemed so easy to get lots of pictures that we quickly loved in a short amount of time. This year was perhaps our biggest challenge yet! With Torin seemingly only interested in walking around, it was tough to get a posed family shot, but we were happy to get a few!

What was probably our best where we were all smiling nicely happened to be right when the sun broke through some clouds and whited out our faces a little too much! Oh well.

We did get a few others that we really liked too!

We tried as hard as we could to get some good pictures of the kids by themselves. It resorted to Dani kneeling discreetly behind Torin, holding him in place on the log so he wouldn't run off as fast as he could - you can see her cardigan right by Torin's right hand. We were happy (and surprised, honestly) that it worked for one picture!


Then, the kids all decided they wanted to get different shots in different combinations of kids. We ended up with some fun ones of the different combinations.

Jacob and Claire

Kate and Liam

The Girls

The Boys

The two who started this whole mess!