Thursday, July 27, 2017

Jelly Making

Viva made jelly and jam for the first time this past week. Jelly or jam making is a big production. You need fruit to turn into jelly (or jam). You need pectin (usually) and lots of sugar. You need a big pan to cook the jelly in. You need sterile bottles, lids, and bands. You need a large water bath canner.  And lastly, you don't need, but it's nice to have, a juicer. Because it's so much work to collect all the needed supplies, I like to make more than one batch of jelly or jam while everything is out.

Once you have gathered all the supplies,

then the real "fun" starts. You wash your bottles, lids, and bands. You prepare your fruit or berries by juicing them (jelly) or squashing them (jam). You measure out the berries, the sugar, and the pectin. You combine the berries and pectin together then add heat and you stir, stir, stir, stir until it boils. Add the sugar and stir, stir, stir, stir more.

The stirring of the boiling berries and sugar is dangerous. Even though you use a very large pan, the jelly will still sometimes spit up and out and attack the jelly maker! And sure enough, on our third batch Viva was attacked and lost some of her enthusiasm for jelly making. 

Jelly making is hard work! However the reward is great. There is nothing so fine as homemade jelly and jam. Store bought jelly and jam seldom have the same intensity of flavor.

PS This may be Viva's first and last time making jelly the old fashioned way. Kara bought me a Ball jelly and jam maker. It's a small machine kind of like a bread machine. It will do all the stirring for you! It makes sense to use something safer when working with the kids, so we will give it a try when we finish our current supply of 20 bottles.

PSS The jelly we made was from crowberries that the children picked last fall. They kept pestering me to get it made into jelly and since the new berry picking season will soon be underway, I recruited Viva and got to work.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Bentley: Out of Commission

Last month Bentley was injured by Jake. It wasn't at karate. It wasn't during a fight. It was oddly enough while they were sitting next to each other on stools with rollers. Jake tipped back his stool and it rolled forward and when he tipped it back down one of the rollers came down on the back of Bentley's heel.

There was, of course, considerable drama. Bentley was in pain, but it wasn't clear how serious the injury was. He limped around a little the next few days, but sometimes he didn't limp at all. He went to karate, but took it easy. A good week after the accident we adults started panicking and Kara took him in to a sports clinic to see if his tendon was injured.

It wasn't his tendon he/we needed to be worried about. It was the growth plate in his heel--there was a hairline fracture. He was put in a walking cast and told to keep off his foot as much as possible for three weeks--no karate and no Boy Scout camp. He was angry, of course. (I believe he threatened to kill his brother.) After venting for a couple of days, he was really good about taking it easy and letting his heel heal. And it did! All is good now. (It took another few weeks after he quit using the cast for him to get back to normal activity which is common.)

Jake went to a karate a few times while Bentley was out of commission. When the sensei asked Jake where Bentley was, this was his explanation: "Well, he was sitting on a chair reading....and there was an accident involving his heel, tendon, growth plate...I tripped...but I'm no medical professional, so that's all the details I know."

When I asked for a photo of him in his cast, he tried to run away.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Jake the Biker

Jake has been a biking champ this year!  He has been keeping his Dad company on some longer (15+ mile) bike rides.  Matt better watch out - pretty soon he might have trouble keeping up with these boys!  :) :)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


We had a slow start this summer, but Matt has managed to get the kids out a few times!  Jake & Lincoln did a weekend out camping with their Dad, and then Jake & Bentley did a weekend at the ward campout!  In addition the kids have been engaging in "deck camping" on and off for the past couple of weeks.  Jake has been out there every night, and all four of his other siblings on and off take turns to join him.  Summer time fun!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Lloyd One Returns

Months and months ago, maybe even as far back as last summer, Lloyd the Green Ninja (a Lego figure) was lost. Lincoln looked and looked for him. He recruited his mom and me to help him look. We could not find Lloyd. Time passed and Lloyd did not show up. Lincoln was very sad. Finally Kara went on eBay and purchased a second Lloyd. Lincoln was happy to have a new Lloyd, but he did not forget about his first Lloyd. We still heard about the missing Lloyd and occasionally he would launch a search for him. Time passed. More time passed. 

Then one day recently Lloyd was found hanging out with Viva's Legos. No one had thought to check in Viva's Lego bins for Lloyd.

Lincoln was very happy to find Lloyd. We are happy, too. Lloyd is now a closed chapter in the book of Lincoln's Lamentations.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Lincoln's 6th Birthday: Year of the Penguin!

Lincoln is my funny guy.  He tends to ask for "complex" cakes.... I think it goes back to his first birthday.  :)  I was in the hospital and my good friend Carmin, a cake decorator, made him this masterpiece:

(awhhhhhh - SO CUTE!!!!).

Anyway.  Lincoln & I have a history of fun cakes.  Grandma Julia normally gets roped in too.  So this year I tried (as usual) to sway him towards a bundt cake, a costco cake, a simple but lovely tie dye cake.... no dice.  He informed me he wanted a penguin cake.  For the record, I have never heard him discuss penguins before.  I guess it's because last year we had an eagle cake?!  :)

This year was FANTASTIC!  I found a few cute ideas on Pinterest and then enlisted Genevieve who has an enthusiasm (and far greater talent than I) for this type of stuff.  She did fabulous!  

She's hired!  (And no, this isn't forced child labor - as I type she is engrossed in the Hello Cupcake book, looking for something new to make.... !)

We had our usual pizza, and Lincoln opted for Star Wars 6 as his evening movie of choice.  We will be going to H2Oasis as a family in the next couple weeks as his official "bday choice" activity.  On Sunday he picked dinner, and apparently he is all about breakfast - eggs, pancakes, muffins, and bacon!  :)

Happy big 6, big guy!  We love you!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Swim Lessons!

This summer Lincoln & Evan are learning to swim.  We signed them up for two back to back sessions June/July with our favorite local swim group.  It meets very close to our home, which is awesome!  Now that I'm on my last children I'm becoming wise - I have invested in "warm belly" suits, which are made out of the neoprene that divers use to stay warm.  The little guys are able to concentrate on learning to swim because their teeth aren't chattering from the cold.  Brilliant!

Lincoln doesn't love that the suits make you a tad buoyant (irksome when you're trying to stay underwater!) so he decided to wear his regular swim suit one day to class.  He didn't believe me that the new one was all that different.  He quickly changed his mind.... :)  Lincoln did awesome.  By the end of the first 8 sessions he mastered front and back floating and has a great wall glide.

Evan?  He's making progress, but a bit slower.  In his words.... "why did you sign me up for this?  I didn't ask you to!!!"  Anyway.  Cute kid.  Love them both!

Summer Dance Intensive

In June Genevieve did a 3 week dance intensive at her ballet school.  She went last summer and thoroughly enjoyed it, so decided to give it another whirl.  I was thinking she might give it a pass because it starts "early" (9:30 am) and she really didn't like that, but she rose above the struggle.  :)  I guess that means she REALLY likes it?!  They bring up different guest instructors from around the country and have classes in ballet, jazz, modern, singing, and stretching.  She had a great group of girls (and one boy!) that she was with and had a fabulous time.  At the end of the three weeks we had the chance to enjoy a performance down town!

A quick shot after the show:

Monday, July 10, 2017

Girl Scout Camp!

Genevieve went to her first overnight camp this past week.  She is now a third-generation camp Togowoods attendee!  I did many (okay, maybe a SLIGHT exaggeration, but more than a few!) overnight camps as a kid and I wasn't always a happy camper - I would get homesick and didn't love all the camp activities, but was always convinced I wanted to go by my childhood bestie.  Genevieve headed off to camp on her own and I was a bit worried - but she was not.

She had a fantastic time, and tells me she didn't miss us... at all.  Sheesh!  She wants to go back for longer, and to farther away places.  I guess I will settle for feeling happy that she is a secure and well adjusted independent child?!  :)  I'm delighted she enjoyed Camp Togowoods.  She came home singing camp songs and has been busy teaching them to her little brothers.... :)

Weird trivia?  They had a burn ban at the camp (which I think is odd as it has been pouring rain lately.)  They made s'mores with marshmallow puff creme instead.... !  Genevieve's platform tent had space for six campers, but the three girls who didn't show up were all in her tent so it was just her and one other girl in that tent.  There were six total in her group and two counselors - so they had a nice counselor to kid ratio!

Other weird trivia?  Rise time was 7:30 and we were told she was always the first one up, and the most cheerful.  She's been holding out on me for years, I didn't know she was capable of early mornings!

The packing list they provided for a three night four day camp was quite incredible:

Here she is with ONE of her bags (she had two big ones by the time we got everything packed up!!!):

Dropped off by Dad (It's nice on such occasions to have a spouse that doesn't mind a good drive.... !):

She's getting so big!  

Friday, July 07, 2017

Everyday Life: More June

It was a long month for Bentley staying off his foot. 
He had a lot of computer time and reading time.

Evan with his ever so cute little bow for his cello!

Reading with Opa.

Reading on his own.

Another playground!

What do you they look tough?!

E & L building a bike obstacle course.
It's a good thing they have helmets on; this course looks difficult.

Minecraft with the Boys
Viva is probably at the kitchen desk also playing.

Viva made this fine marshmallow oven.

Kara's cousin John and his wife Elizabeth stayed with us for a few days.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Everyday Life: June

Water Balloon Toss
(Look carefully and you can see the orange balloon.)

(Little boys grow up too fast. 
Soon they will not play with the trains any more.)

Playground Fun

It was a craze and we tried it out.
Interesting, but not for long.

Huh...not sure why the giraffe hat.

Viva modeling an apron I made for my friend Helen.

Lincoln playing the white bass guitar.

Evan playing the orange bass guitar.
(My question is why does Opa have two bass guitars that only differ in color? I was told so that the grandchildren could play with him.  Hmmm...sure....but there are five grandchildren.)

Bentley in his boot playing fling ball.

Bentley in his boot in a bag having a water fight with his brothers.
(Viva likes filling water balloons, but usually doesn't join the fight.)