Friday, March 20, 2015

The Monthly Asher: 52

Asher has gotten really great at saying prayers on his own. He'll still occasionally pause and say nothing until I give him an idea, but for the most part he comes up with his own blessings and thankfuls. We always pray for the missionaries, and when Reed prays, he says, "please bless the missionaries, including Sister Harrell and Roper." Asher took the last half "including Sister Harrell and Roper" but never includes the first part--so he ends up saying things like, "Please bless us to have a good night sleep, including Sister Harrell and Sister Roper." (I do think they'd appreciate a good night's sleep, too, though!) He likes to pray for Daddy during busy season, and always points that out to me after his prayers. Usually he asks to help Daddy drive home safely, but a few nights ago was, "Please bless Daddy to get his busy season done."


One day I started singing "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" from Frozen. Asher joined in. Me: Do you want to build a snowman? Asher: Or toot a bunch in the hall!"

I was cooking bacon for dinner and realized that apparently Asher has never seen (or at least never paid attention to) raw bacon--because he watched me put the raw bacon into the pan and, when I pulled out cooked bacon later he said, "Oh so that's what bacon cooks into!! Real bacon!"


Asher used to get really scared at night time, which was when we started teaching him to say his own prayers. We'd have a special prayer at bed time, asking to help Ashie not be scared and to be able to fall asleep without worrying too much. Then we'd remind him what to do if he was scared: first, try to pray, next, come to mom. This method was actually really helpful and, eventually, he stopped being worried or nervous enough at night to mention it. A few weeks ago, he started being scared at bedtime again. I remembered a story we had read just a few days before that told the story of a little boy who was scared in the night, then noticed the picture of Jesus on his night stand. The picture helped him feel comforted and not scared. I grabbed a picture of Jesus out of my primary bag and let Ashie take the picture to bed with him. After a few days, the picture was quite wrinkled, so we let Asher choose out his own frame from the dollar store and put a non-wrinkled Jesus picture inside. The picture has helped him SO much. He checks for it every night and places it right next to him on the bed when he lays down. Today he found a little pass along card with Jesus on it and put the pass along card with his monkey in bed so monkey could have a Jesus picture, too!


Asher loves to get Lila after her naps, so I pretty much always have him go get her. Lately, she's started yelling for Asher instead of me when she wakes up! She has also been super groggy after her naps, and just wants to lay in bed for a little bit--with someone--then get up. Asher has been the one laying with her, which is super cute. When she's ready to get up, he either helps her make her bed (and later she tells me Doo doo Lila make! (Goo goo (Ashie) and Lila made the bed) or helps her gather the stuffed animals/blankets she wants to bring, then carries them for her. He's so sweet to her. Most of the time.


Speaking of Lila and Asher--a few weeks ago I was stuck on a phone call with the doctor's office and it was getting to be late for getting Lila down for a nap. I asked Reed to go read Lila a book to save myself a step when I finally got off the phone. A tradition was born and at naps, I'd read a book, then Reed would read a book. Asher wanted in on the action. He worked hard to get comfortable with Lila's favorite book (Sam Loves Kisses) and now reads it to her every day at nap time!


After we take Reed to school, I generally spend 30 minutes to an hour cleaning, then Asher, Lila, and I play together. For the past few weeks, Asher has started occupying himself by playing legos by himself in his room. He disappears upstairs as soon as we get home, then goes to work! He's been building cooler and cooler creations each day and really enjoys his lego time. The funny thing is that he doesn't complain at all about this play time but, later when he does quiet time, he can never think of anything to do and every suggestion I make is unacceptable because playing on his own is, you know, impossible.


Asher is becoming a total perfectionist, and while there are some benefits to this, his perfectionism also leads to him being super hard on himself. I've really been trying to reinforce the idea that the important thing is that he tries his best. And, if he's having a hard time, taking his time on something will help him to learn how to do it better and to be less frustrated. All the time now, he'll tell me things like, "I kind of went out of the lines a little bit. But it's okay because I'm doing my best." Or if I comment that he did a nice job, he'll say, "Yeah, that's because I takeded my time!"


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

St. Patrick's Day

Our main St. Patrick's Day tradition has become creating our own unique leprechaun trap. I'm not going to lie, I almost forgot this year because we had a crazy day-before-St.-Patrick's-Day and we didn't even remember until late afternoon that the next day was St. Patrick's Day. Luckily, though, we remembered with enough time to craft a new spin on our leprechaun trap. In years past, our trap has been box based. This time, we tried to be a little sneakier. We found a tupperware we weren't emotionally attached to (there are some tupperware containers that we are, in fact, emotionally attached to), created a false lid for the container, then filled the container with Elmer's Glue. On the top of the lid, we sneakily wrote "Reed and Asher Banck Keep Out" and added a few coins to entice the leprechaun to enter our trap. Reed really wanted to try using a sticky mouse trap, but we didn't happen to have a sticky mouse trap and had already been out a few times, so I talked him into the glue. We went to bed certain that in the morning, there would be a wee little leprechaun man trapped in our container.


You would think we had learned our lesson from years past and not let our hopes creep up quite so high. We failed to catch the leprechaun. He crafted a ladder out of our own false lid, took our coins, and got out of the glue before it had a chance to harden completely! Drat.

He did leave us a handsome pile of chocolate gold coins. We think these coins were a consolation prize, since we were obviously so close to catching the leprechaun. He knew we'd be bummed we didn't get to keep all his gold, so he left us this gold treat.

 After checking the trap, Reed knew exactly where to look next: the potty.

And then the milk. We were happy to see the leprechaun followed the tradition of his brothers before him and magically turned both green.

Before we left for school, I attempted to get a picture of all three children looking at me and smiling, cutely posing with their gold coins. I was obviously wildly successful (ha). I did notice that Lila wore the same shirt this year as she did last year (it's a tunic type top, so still fits--none of her other clothes from then do). It may be time to invest in a new green shirt. Maybe next year!


While Reed was at school, Asher, Lila, and I had our own mini-session of school. We'd cancelled Buddy School because of some mysterious illness that has been plaguing our house, which made Ashie kind of sad, so we decided to do our own school! We played with some St. Patrick's Day school manipulatives I made a few years ago, read a St. Patrick's Day book, made a cute rainbow craft, did a green scavenger hunt, and said a little St. Patrick's Day poem. Asher made his own activity for us--a G and Gr (for Green) word game. He had a green paper and, as we came up with words that started with "g" or "gr," he would write them down. I was actually really impressed with his spelling (he spelled everything on his own and, while we do a reading lesson every day, we haven't worked on spelling in a while), so I thought I'd share: gold, good, got, gut, goo, gate, gras (grass), grape, grate, green, gron (I'm pretty positive he made this word up--but he did spell it phonetically correctly!).


Due to some illness that's been floating around our house, we had been on a BRATY (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, yogurt) diet for a few days. I was planning to keep that going for dinner, but Reed was basically devastated when he heard we weren't having a green dinner--so we made pizza rolls with the dough dyed green. We even branched out from our standard pepperoni and cheese to try ham, pineapple, and cheese. Lila and I actually had a very enjoyable time assembling the rolls while the boys watched "aftenoon show" (Phineas and Ferb, their latest favorite). Our dinner was totally anti-BRATY, but we did pair it with bananas and applesauce, so there was that.


Honestly, it was a pretty low-key St. Patrick's Day (my energy reserves are draining the further into tax season we get), but I think we all enjoyed the day, so I'm counting it as a win.



More Saturday Goodness: Stratosphere and Shoes

This first picture isn't from Saturday, but it deserves to be documented, anyway! Our first date anniversary was on a Thursday and cute Ryan showed up after work with Sonic shakes for us. We then talked for a long time, ate our shakes, and watched Grey's Anatomy. A simple, sweet, and perfect celebration.

Another tax season Saturday was upon us, and we had a plan. The plan started by getting Lila a pile of new (to her) shoes--four pair for only $10. Woot to the woot. They are all pink and she is in love! We had a little shoe fashion show when we got home and she was just on fire. She is such a ham and is just bursting with personality!


When Ryan was done for the day, we met him at his office, then drove to the Stratosphere! Locals could go up to the top for free for just one week, and we knew we wanted to take advantage of that deal. Normally, the Stratosphere is prohibitively expensive. Anyway, we made it to the top and, after being seriously dizzy for a while before we got used to the elevation, we really enjoyed the view.


After we were Stratosphered out, we went to the Container Park for a little play time. We were going to eat there, but, as it turns out, none of the restaurants are really kid-friendly--so we headed to our favorite standby instead: Sweet Tomatoes! We don't go out to eat very often, but when we do, it's almost always to Sweet Tomatoes.

And finally it was home to bed!

Monday, March 16, 2015

More Saturday Goodness: Bowling

On one of Ryan's first working Saturdays, I made the kids a deal: if we spent time working hard and got a lot of stuff done in the morning, we could just play and party with Daddy when he got home. My deal worked. We FINALLY cleaned out the dreaded "secret hideout," our under-the-stairs toy closet. I should have taken a before picture, but I didn't--so you'll just have to believe me when I tell you that it was awful! You really could not even walk through the closet.  We found a new home for some things, got rid of some things, and were left with this:

I'd be lying if I told you it were still that clean, but it is at least cleaner than it started. And, because we don't have nearly as many toys in the closet now, the mess doesn't pile up like it did before. Hurrah. We also cleaned the kids' rooms and closets, my room, and the downstairs main living area. So we did indeed get a lot done. Ryan wasn't home yet, so we decided to enjoy the nice weather and draw some chalk!

Lila really loves coloring and chalk is one of her favorite mediums. She was super, super dirty when we were done because she kept laying down on her belly to color. Everyone had fun, though!


When Ryan got home, we decided to take the kids bowling! They haven't been since Reed was 3.5 and Asher 1.5. We need to start going more often because they had the best time, ever. After every single ball he threw, Asher did this awesome jump/dance in place while he waited for his ball to reach the pins. The dance was quite involved because his ball took quite a long time to make it's way down the lane! Watch the video of his dance below. You won't regret it.


Lila was on my team and loved, loved, loved pushing the ball. As soon as the ball left her hands, she'd say, "More, more!" without even waiting to see what happened to the first ball, ha. She was a pretty good sport about waiting her turn, but that was only because there were fun chairs to climb up and down off, over and over and over again.


Asher:

And Lila:

And Reed:

The bowling alley was in Summerlin, not far from the house of my childhood--so we made a little side trip to the house and took stalker photos. My house is the middle white house:


Then we went to the park that sits between the elementary school and middle school I attended. Memory lane, my friends. This park may or may not have been the source of Lila's allergic reaction that landed us in the hospital the next day...just saying...


After a quick stop at Smith's for the essentials (allergy medicine, 10 pounds of cheese, 18 bottles of Mountain Dew, ice cream, cookies, nuts, and chocolate syrup) (I'm not joking) (I usually buy healthier food, I promise), we went home and had dinner and ice cream sundaes. We put the kids to bed, then Ryan and I fell asleep to our BFF, Jimmy Fallon.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Portlandia

I don't know how it took me SO long to post about this, but it should be known that Ryan and I took a trip without kids! We went to Portland to visit my dear friend Alex and her husband, Chris. Ryan was planning to give me a plane ticket to visit Alex for my birthday. Then, when he looked at prices for plane tickets and realized how crazy inexpensive they were, he thought it would be fun for both of us to go! My amazing mom drove down from St. George to stay with the kids for the long weekend. She even threw Lila a little birthday party, since we had the audacity to leave on Lila's birthday. (Though let the record show that we did give her a very fun birthday the day before her birthday.) The kids had all kinds of fun with Grandma and I'm pretty sure they didn't miss us very much because they were too busy playing with one of their favorite people.

We left for Portland Wednesday afternoon. The flight was so relaxing and quiet--we both got to read our books for over an hour with no interruptions, then got to talk for a long time with no interruptions! That's like a vacation right there. Upon arriving in Portland, we had to take a picture of our feet with the carpet. Apparently taking a foot selfie with the Portland carpet is a thing, so we couldn't not do it. The airport is replacing the carpet soon, so we were glad we got to see the original carpet in all it's Art Deco glory!


Alex picked us up from the airport and I was just SO dang excited to see her! Alex and I were enemies in elementary school, but realized in middle school that we were crazy and became best friends by eighth grade. Then I moved (sad), but we kept in touch. We were reunited again in college--she came to visit me pre-Ryan, then when she moved to Provo post-Ryan we got together often! Anyway, Alex picked us up and we went straight to Little Big Burger, a local place with tasty hamburgers and AMAZING fries. After dinner, we walked across the street to Salt and Straw, which has literally the best ice cream we've ever had. Oh. My. Gosh. The ice cream was so rich and super creamy and just heaven. Salt and Straw has many "interesting" flavors--like Strawberry Honey Balsamic and Pear with Goat Cheese. We sampled a few of the more adventurous flavors, but each settled on a more traditional flavor to enjoy. YUM. After we were sufficiently stuffed, we drove to Alex's house and spent the next few hours catching up with Alex and Chris and meeting their adorable corgi, Charlotte.


We started Thursday in Chris and Alex's chiropractic practice. They started their own practice a while ago (Chris is the chiropractor, Alex is the office manager) and we loved seeing their office. They designed the entire office and it looks awesome. We left them to work and went to catch the streetcar! I've not used much public transportation in my life, so I was pretty pumped. Our first stop was Powell's Book Store. Powell's is gigantic! Numerous floors with various rooms housing thousands of books. The store was a little bit overwhelming, but a book lover's dream! We picked out a Roald Dahl chapter book for the boys, then decided to explore the city on foot a while.


One of the places we ran into on foot was a really beautiful old church. Ryan and I both love old buildings, and we were thinking about trying to see if we could go inside the church when we realized that an episode of Grimm was being set up to be filmed as we watched. There were people and trucks and sound equipment everywhere. We don't watch Grimm, but now I feel like we need to, ha!


We also saw this random huge elephant statue in the middle of a greenway/park. The elephant was super cool and we had to stop to take a picture for the boys. Directly across the street from the elephant were these two old, squat buildings whose roofs were entirely covered in moss. The trees above them were also covered in moss. Portland natives are probably used to all this moss, everywhere (it seriously grows in the cracks of the sidewalks), but so much green was so foreign to me and I kind of couldn't get over it!


After a while we decided to find lunch. Alex and Chris had told us to just pull up yelp wherever we were at lunch time and we'd be able to find somewhere good nearby. They weren't joking. There were over 30 restaurants within a one-mile radius that had 5 star ratings! Portland is a city of good food. We settled on a Mexican joint. When we got there, we realized it was connected by a very shady-looking door to a strip club! If you needed the restroom, you had to go in the strip club and use their! We didn't use the restroom. We did eat the food, though, and it was delicious!


After lunch, we rode the streetcar up to Nob Hill and wandered through some cute shops. We were getting closer to the time we needed to head back, so we rode the streetcar back downtown and saw our Mecca: TARGET. And not just any Target, but a City Target. I didn't even know that was a thing. You may not know this about us, but Ryan and I end pretty much every date at Target--so it seemed only fitting that we explore the City Target!



After Target, we decided to walk back to Chris and Alex's office rather than take the streetcar! Our decision to walk was a good one. We got to walk across one of Portland's many bridges and the view was gorgeous! We also got to examine the crack in the road where the bridge separates when boats need to come through. We could see the river below, which sparked my fear of heights a little bit.



We went to two antique-type shops back on Alex and Chris's side of the bridge, then went to meet up! We were going to a place called The Screen Door for dinner, and apparently the line can get quite long. The restaurant is only open for dinner and, on the weekends, for brunch--but it is always full. After we ate, we definitely knew why! Their fried chicken was literally the most delicious fried chicken I've ever had, in my life. The chicken was super moist and tender, and the breading was perfectly crunchy. I'm salivating a little just remembering it! After dinner, we went home and talked late into the night again! Those late night talking fests were one of my favorite parts of the trip.


Chris and Alex had a shorter schedule on Friday, so Ryan and I just planned to walk around in their neighborhood to see what there was to see! Alex recommended this little cafe for breakfast (and sadly, I can't remember the name now), so Ryan and I decided to try it. We had gigantic blueberry muffins and equally gigantic cups of hot cocoa. The food was, in a word, delicious. We were satisfyingly stuffed, so decided to walk around for a while. There were a few cute little shops we wanted to check out. We did a lot of checking out of shops, because with the kids we either forego cute little shops or spend the time inside the shops making sure no one knocks anything breakable off the shelves!


Alex and Chris live directly across the street from a cemetery, so when we'd done enough shop wandering, we decided to stroll through the cemetery. The cemetery was really old--a lot of the gravestones were worn smooth from weather. The gravestones that were still readable had moss growing IN the letters. I told you I couldn't get over the moss. We were surprised by the high number of Russian graves--I had no idea Portland had such a large Russian population.


After wandering through the cemetery, we went back to Chris and Alex's house to relax and read and hang out with Charlotte the corgi. I must mention that I am really not a dog person, but Charlotte showed me why people love dogs. She's super chill and super cute. Anyway, we both enjoyed some down time (another thing we don't get!). When Chris and Alex got home, we did more talking (of course), so eating, and lots of relaxing. Then we went to our next destination: Voodoo Doughnut!



Ryan and I both love doughnuts (I'm pretty sure doughnuts are my favorite treat, ever), and Voodoo is famous, so we knew we had to go! They had a ton of crazy flavors, but eventually we settled on grape, maple bacon, chocolate filled, and chocolate peanut butter with rice krispies. I also tried a bit of Alex's Mt. Hood doughnut. I think my favorite was the maple bacon but they were all super tasty!



Ryan and I can't take a posed picture to save our lives. Anyway, after doughnuts we drove to Pittock Mansion. The mansion is at the top of this hill that overlooks the city, and the view is amazing!We weren't there long before a security guard came and kicked us out so he could lock up (20 minutes early, ha!). No one will be surprised to find out that we stayed up late talking once again!


On Saturday, we made a day trip to Seattle! I've also never been to Seattle so was *quite* excited. The drive was a few hours long but I was still in awe of all the green, everywhere, that it went pretty quickly! In Seattle, we first stopped at Target to use the bathroom--and I had to take a picture, because Target told me "hi" again--


--then we met up with Alex's college roommate Ledja and her husband Lance. Our goal for the day was to eat our way through Pike's Place Market, which I think was a very good goal. And we did indeed do a lot of eating. Ryan and I tried some really, really good jerky, a calzone, a pulled pork filled chinese bun, a gigantic cinnamon knot, a crazy good cheese sample, and a Piroshky Piroshky blueberry-cream pastry, as well as another Piroshky Piroshky pastry that I can't remember the name of. Piroshky Piroshky is a famous bakery that has been in the Pike's Place Market forever. The line wrapped around the corner, but the reward was well worth the wait!



We, of course, had to stop at the Pike's Place Fish Market. We'd seen it before on Food Network and it's kind of not a trip to the Market unless you go to the Fish Market. When someone purchases a fish, the guy out front throws the fish through the air to the guy behind the counter, who then packages the fish. The flying fish is quite entertaining to watch. While we were at the market, we found Lila's souvenir: a beautiful painting of the ocean with purple tones to match her room!



Another place of note in the Market is the gum wall. It's kind of super gross, with layer upon layer of gum just coating the wall--but you can't not see it. Ryan pretended to lick it and other bystanders were freaking out, which was hilarious.




When we'd seen what we wanted to see at the Pike's Place Market, we walked around the downtown area for a little while until Lance and Ledja had to go. Then the rest of us went down to the Pier. The view of the ocean was gorgeous. We were in an inlet of the ocean, so could see land across the water, not too far from where we were. Ryan and Chris made fun of us, but Alex and I each took several pictures, both of the water and of ourselves, until we finally got a successful shot!


The sun was going down, but we weren't done partying yet! We drove over to the space needle and lucked out with the best parking spot, ever. The area around the space needle has several museums, as well as an amazing outdoor gigantic fountain (really hard to explain) and other sculptures and statues to look at as you walk around. We admired just about everything and especially appreciated the space needle being lit up in Seahawks colors (the Seahawks were playing in the Super Bowl the next weekend). We even saw Darth Vader and a Storm Trooper, so we had to take a picture for the boys.



We were sufficiently worn out by that point--and still had a drive to make--so we started back for Portland. We stopped for a quick dinner on the way home, and everyone pretty much collapsed into bed when we got back!


And then suddenly it was the last day of our trip! Our flight didn't leave until late afternoon, so Chris and Alex took us to Multnomah Falls for one last hurrah. Multnomah Falls is a gorgeous hike. There is a bridge you cross right in front of the falls when you are about 1/3 of the way up. Then you wind through many, many switchbacks (our poor calves were burning!) and come out above the falls, where a platform with a fence was built so you can look over the top. The view really is stunning.








You know all the green I love in Portland? The green is from the rain. And, as it turns out, rain turns dirt to mud. So the trail was a little muddy, especially at the top, but not too bad.



After the hike, Alex made us a tasty dinner, then it was off to the airport once again! The flight home was a nice time to talk and relax before we made it back to real life.




On Monday morning I was greeted by my three sweethearts, whom Ryan and I missed a lot! We had such a fun trip and it was just what we needed to get us ready for the craziness of tax season.