Saturday, December 30, 2017

30 December 2017

I'm snuggling with Nut Brown on the sofa one night and notice how big he's getting.  I say to him, "Nut Brown, when did you get so BIG?" and he says very solemnly, "While you were at work. Or while you were asleep."  I refuse to feel guilty and I say, "Then it's a good thing that I do go to work, or else you'd only be this tall!" He thinks this is extremely funny.  I love watching him laugh.

Friday, December 29, 2017

29 December 2017

Trampoline is up and bouncing in the backyard.  Nut Brown showed me his double back handspring last night.  He's also teaching his brother and sister to do flips.  I really need to look into gymnastics lessons again!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

27 December 2017

The kids and I ran over to the beach on Christmas Day, but it was too cold to stay for long.  On the way over, Bobo was adamant that he was not going to get in the water, no way, and then it turned out that he was the only one who was willing to get in the water and jump waves.  He had a great time and the rest of us shivered.  On the way home, Bridie started saying, "Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!  Merry Christmas!" over and over in the back seat.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

23 December 2017

Today is the first day of Christmas vacation for me - I'm off until Dec 26.  Rosebud asked for waffles for breakfast, and then we went for walk/bike ride.  The tube on Rosebud's bike chariot is busted and until I get a new one, she has to go in her regular stroller while getting pushed by Mr. Brown while the rest of us coast along.  We did discover that Bobo is now big enough for the two-wheeler bike I've been saving for him, so independent riding practice is definitely in his future.

We bought a big trampoline for Christmas for the kids, and its in two giant boxes in the living room, and they are waiting very excitedly for Mr. Brown and I to take a crack at putting it together.  Unfortunately today they dawdled with their chores until it was too late to work on it.  We have trust issues with each other at the moment and so they're slow to do things we ask them to.  Nobody feels like they get enough love from anybody at the moment.  Mr. Brown is amazingly functional for someone who is so depressed but we miss him.

Tonight we had tamales for dinner (we are omnivorous in our Christmas traditions) and afterwards it was advent calendar time.  Our advent calendar is tiny socks, hats and mittens that have four small candies and one scripture in them, prophecies about the coming of the Savior.  Unfortunately I set up the calendar too low, and Rosebud figured out that there was candy in there and wreaked depredations on it.  I haven't had the energy to put it back together (I didn't manage to get candy into it until December 8) so family scripture study has been pretty low this month.  Anyway, tonight for advent the scripture was "Mama's Christmas Memories" and Mr. Brown and I ended up talking about how we spent Christmas as children and some of the happy things we remember.  It was really very nice, and then Rose Pink started playing Silent Night on the piano, and we sang some carols together.  Bobo buzzed off halfway through because we'd interrupted his video game turn for it, and while he was willing to pause video games for candy, he was not willing to pause for singing. 

Afterward Mr. Brown and I took Rosebud for a walk to see the lights in the neighborhood near us, which was really fun.  Rosebud at one point got out of her stroller and jogged, just like she's been watching Mr. Brown do.  Two years old is such an imitator.  She's just slightly pigeon-toed and watching her sweet chubby legs do their best to run was super adorable.  She also discovered the pockets in her shorts and put her hands in them and slouched down the street, being super cool.  She just melts our hearts.  (She doesn't feel like she gets enough love either - lately she's been waking up at night and is unable to go back to sleep by herself.  Exhausting.) 

Friday, December 22, 2017

22 December 2017

Driving past a commercial building with a 'for lease' sign in the window, and Nut Brown says, "Oh look, they've put up a holiday sign!"  We all look at him and he says, "For Lease Navidad?"

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

19 December 2017

Rose Pink let me cut her hair, the first time that I have cut long hair, and it got a lot shorter than I planned but is still acceptably long enough.  I didn't do a great job but I learned a lot, and she's being a really good sport about how it turned out.  I offered to take her to a shop to get it trimmed up but she says it's fine.

Friday, December 15, 2017

15 December 2017

We rearranged our evening plans to run help someone move.  They had a dolly there, and Nut Brown was giving Bobo a ride on it when some adult said, "That's just for furniture."  Nut Brown shrugged and said, "We can change his name."  That night Bobo told me that his new middle name was 'Furniture'. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

12 December 2017

I sing songs to Rosebud when I'm putting her in bed at night and she has started to learn the words to her favorites.  Her first favorite was 'Itsy Bitsy Spider' but she's added some others-

'Wok!' = Wise Man and the Foolish Man

'Popcorn' = Popcorn Popping

'Tay Me' = Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (tay me = carry me)

She fills in all the words she knows, especially to Popcorn Popping and I just love listening to her enjoy and sing.  Tonight she sang along with me using her own words and we made lovely music together.

Friday, December 8, 2017

10 December 2017

Rose Pink is undergoing a teenage ritual and now has braces!  She is still so beautiful.  The orthodontist says that she'll only need them for about 18 months thanks to the appliance that she was already wearing.  Probably we should get Nut Brown into one of them soon as well... he and Rose Pink both inherited my small mouth.  Rose Pink is being a very good sport about the dietary restrictions imposed by braces, and she is meticulous with her brushing and flossing.  I really admire her discipline.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

5 December 2017

Lately when Bobo has had a particularly wonderful day, he'll say to me as I tuck him in, "Mom, I .LOVED. my day." with the emphasis on the 'loved'.  It's super cute.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

3 December 2017

Rosebud is very, very, very TWO at the moment.  I don't remember any of our other kids being quite so TWO ever.  We have to talk everything through and there's so much yelling when we don't get it right.  I am learning patience yet again.  She's such a sweetheart and so kind and affectionate, but gets so frustrated when we don't understand what she wants that she starts to scream.  Her new phrase lately is 'I do it'.  We love watching her take control of her life though.  And we're practicing language as hard as we can so her vocabulary will expand that much faster and we can get through this.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

30 November 2017

We had a family reunion over Thanksgiving in Orlando last week!  My parents and my brothers and sister and their families all came, and it was a great big cousin-fest.  We'd started planning this reunion in Orlando well before we even thought about moving here, so in the end it worked out very nicely for us.

My parents rented an enormous house in Kissimmee, which had a nice big kitchen too.  Mr. Brown and I considered inviting everyone to our house for Thanksgiving dinner, but instead we packed up most of our kitchen and carted it down there.  My Oklahoma brother and sister-in-law had to leave on Friday morning early, so we had Thanksgiving on Wednesday instead so we could eat leftovers on Thursday before they left.  There was so much food and it was so delicious (leek mashed potatoes.  maple pecan sweet potatoes.) except for the rolls and the taro, which was experimental. Also we made pecan pie bars and pumpkin bars instead of pies this year... and while they were delicious, we missed the pies.

We swam in the pool at the house and in the community pool, played lots of card games, watched the Macy's parade, and went to Downtown Disney together.  We had a surprise birthday party for Grandma and Uncle Chris, complete with pinata that Nut Brown made, shaped like a birthday cake.  Every night, some of the siblings/spouses would hang out in the hot tub after the kids went to bed, and that was some fun bonding time too.  My dad was sick for the last couple days of the reunion, too.  Also we got to meet Chris's friend Kelsie, who we liked very much.  I guess everybody else got to meet her, because Chris had brought her to our house before.  (I really love living closer to my family.)

One night we had everybody up to our house to give them the tour and have marshmallow wars (thanks to Grandma).  Grandpa took us out to Golden Corral for dinner.  I'm so glad that we got together!


(Basically all of us showed up in minivans... the exceptions being my brother who's not married and my brother/sister-in-law who have no kids... I think my dad thought it was funny because he commented on it in their Christmas letter.  My uncle Bob hates minivans because he says they took all the romance out of cars... but they're extremely popular because they're so PRACTICAL.  We love ours.)  

Monday, November 13, 2017

13 November 2017

Rosebud has this adorable interrogatory sound that she makes whenever she's interested in hearing more about something, and sometimes as a stand-in for an affirmative.  It sounds something like "ummnnnh?" but it impossible to reproduce with letters.  She makes this noise, for instance, any time someone mentions candy, or walk, or dinner when she's hungry. 

A few nights ago she woke up with a tummy bug and was throwing up in the sink.  Mr. Brown and I were looking at the vomit to see if we could tell if she'd eaten something bad or if it was an illness, and I said, 'What is that?' and he said, "I don't know, maybe dried fruit?" and our sweet sick baby said, "ummnnnh?" because the idea that she might get some dried fruit appealed even in the middle of the night, even right after vomiting.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

11 November 2017

Because my babies are adorable

Sunday, November 5, 2017

5 November 2017

Bobo came sleeping into our room on Saturday morning and said, "Good morning" and raised his arm to rub his eyes.  On the underside of his arm, there was a lizard.  I overreacted and he said in surprise, "But Mom, he's a friendly lizard!  He was on my nightlight!"  Florida- where the wildlife is everywhere.  But at least it's friendly.

Friday, November 3, 2017

3 November 2017

Last night we hosted our first practice Thanksgiving dinner here in Florida.  Mr. Brown made this wonderful turkey, and thanksgiving lentils, and mashed sweet potatoes with lime, honey and cumin, and rolls, and a cornbread/wheat bread chorizo stuffing.  Also sweet potato bars (YUM) and taro pie (not so yum) and Rose Pink made a mango custard pie based on the pear custard pie recipe (super DOUBLE yum).  It was an adventure in eating.  Our guests made new dishes that we had already had before, but it turned out that our living room/ballroom is an excellent place to host a large group of people, much better than our house in Michigan.  There are still some kinks to iron out, but the dinner went well and we enjoyed our own food even if not the others'!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

2 November 2017

We had our practice Thanksgiving on the Day of the Dead this year, and we had so much fun painting our faces that I think we'll do it again next year!  Makeup was on sale at the Halloween store at 50% off.

Mr. Brown made a bunch of new and interesting Thanksgiving dishes, including cornbread/wheat bread/chorizo stuffing, Thanksgiving lentils, taro pie, sweet potato bars, cumin lime honey mashed sweet potatoes and jerk turkey.  Thumbs up to the stuffing, the lentils and the turkey sauce... the turkey itself cooked so quickly that he didn't get to sauce it.  The jerk sauce itself turned out to be a beautiful thing and we have eaten it on many other dishes since.  The taro pie was not really edible and the sweet potatoes were okay but not amazing. 

The guests we had were not as adventurous as we were, but it was good to keep the tradition.  And we enjoyed our food for sure!

I decorated the top of the sweet potato bars to honor the holiday!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

31 October 2017

Halloween!!! Rose Pink was Little Red Riding Hood, Nut Brown was a giraffe, Bobo was a ninja, and Rosebud was a pumpkin.  Rose Pink came up with Rosebud's costume idea, and we bought a pumpkin shirt and chalked her hair green.  Rose Pink came up with her own costume and did all the shopping for it too.  Bobo found a black shirt at the thrift store that he really wanted because of the nifty Reebok logo on it, but it was too big.  So we bought one that fit and I made a logo out of red cotton and glued it on.  With some other embellishments that he designed himself, he was ready and super excited to be a ninja!

The giraffe costume for Nut Brown took the most effort.  I thought it turned out pretty well.  He made the face himself and helped me glue all the spots on to the yellow clothes.  I actually made him legs to carry in his hands so he'd be a four-legged giraffe, but that got old quickly when we were trick or treating!

I was a snowman (Rose Pink made my nose for me!) and Mr. Brown was a caped wolf-man.  He's always wanted wolf ears and this was the year that he acquired his own set.

We trunk-or-treated at the church, and then went out in the subdivision next to us on Halloween.  It was so fun to be out - Halloween is our favorite holiday because a) costumes!!! and b) community sharing and good feelings!

Friday, October 27, 2017

27 October 2017

Last week Mr. Brown took Nut Brown and Rose Pink up to Michigan to work at the Winter Clothing Distribution and I stayed home with Bobo and Rosebud.  We drove up to see my sister in Tallahassee, and went to the beach, and did a bunch of fun things together.  I really enjoyed the time off. :)  Mr. Brown and the older kids had a really good time back in Michigan, seeing old friends and working hard at one of our favorite projects.

A charity called "Feed the Children" set up a project downtown called "Orlando Cares For Puerto Rico", where they provided food and packing materials and volunteers packed individual meals to be sent to Puerto Rico.  It went on for weeks, and we went down several times to help them work towards their goal of 4.4 million meals.  The Sunday after Mr. Brown returned from Michigan turned out to be the last day, and so we decided to go work one more two-hour shift.  Well, we ended up staying five hours, until they called it at 9 pm.  They announced that we'd made our goal, but based on the numbers they'd been giving out previously, Mr. Brown and I think they were probably rounding up... but they would only have been short a few thousand, so close enough!

When we first arrived, we were assigned to a table with two guys who'd been there already for three hours.  They thought that we would be too slow, but we showed them in about five minutes that they were too slow for us!  After they left, we had a couple other people offer to jump in at our table, including a lady with family in Puerto Rico who had come to do what she could to help.  It was a pretty rocking night- lots of hard work and laughter and dancing and hundreds of meals packed.  One of the volunteers who was working on collecting the packed boxes told us that our table was the most productive of the night.  The Puerto Rican lady had not expected to work so hard - she commented a couple times at the beginning how fast we were - but I told her we knew there were hungry people waiting on this food and the more we packed, the better.  We had a really good time working together and felt like we got to share the love of God with our coworkers as well as with Puerto Rico.

The other coworker, who was named Emily, asked me randomly out of the blue if our kids were homeschooled.  I said, "Yes, how could you tell?" and she said, "Because they're so happy."

Friday, October 20, 2017

20 October 2017

 Several months ago, Mr. Brown invited Nut Brown and Rose Pink to invent some creatures and write up some field research on them.  See below.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

18 October 2017

Mr. Brown and Rose Pink and Nut Brown are out of town and I started my first morning without him by killing an enormous roach in the kids' room.  I smacked it, and it vanished (and the head came off the fly swatter).  Ugh.  I think I squeaked and said something, Oh no! It disappeared!  and Bobo said calmly, "That's because roaches can teleport."  Which seems to be true sometimes but is a truly frightening idea.

But I gritted my teeth and found it and killed it with a sandal and then Bobo calmly went and got the dustpan and disposed of it.  He was much more laidback with the whole process than I was.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

17 October 2017

More Star Wars artwork from Nut Brown.

Monday, October 16, 2017

16 October 2017

This morning I arrived at work and found that there were frog prints in the dew on the window.  The size of the prints makes me think the frog is about the size of my hand.  Two weeks ago, we found a frog in the bathroom at home (early in the morning, when Spencer was out of town) that was about three inches long.  I want to know how it got in!  Nut Brown trapped it and took it outside - after he'd released it and re-caught it a couple times.  There is so much more life here in Florida!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

15 October 2017

Rosebud has reached the speech explosion part of verbal development.  She is willing to try all sorts of words, and surprises me with words when I don't expect it.  She was fussing at me the other night while helping with dishes, and finally said, "pun!" so I handed her the sponge and she was satisfied.  'Cookie' and 'candy' were also early entrants in her vocabulary.

Friday, October 13, 2017

13 October 2017

Bobo has this funny fascination with dental floss!  He will steal all the containers that he can find and hide them in his treasure box.  The other night he brought me two containers when he came for me to floss his teeth.  When we were done, I told him to run put them away, and when he came back to read scriptures with me, he still had them in his hand.  I said, "Go put those up, buddy!" and he said, "You're not supposed to see them!"  He's such a funny guy.

He also is very extremely verbal.  He has a huge vocabulary, and he has so much to say.  I am surprised often by how fluent he is.  He's such a sweet, sweet boy.  This move to Florida has been really hard on him - he's very lonely.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

10 October 2017

Yesterday was a federal holiday, so Mr. Brown suggested that we go to the beach for the first time.  We drove over to Jetty Beach in Port Canaveral and spent a very relaxing three hours playing the water and in the sand and eating sandy snacks.  It was a lot of fun.  It felt like time slowed way down and the three hours was very peaceful.  A nice advantage of homeschooling is that we can go to the beach randomly during the week, when it's much less crowded. 

Rosebud is definitely a water baby- she would squirm to get down when I carried her further out in the surf, because she wasn't getting enough water splashed in her face.  Once she was knocked out of my grasp as we were walking towards shore, and tumbled underwater a couple feet in front of me.  She looked up at me from under the water as I rushed to grab her, and when I got her back up, she just wanted to walk back out into the waves again.  Loves the water, doesn't mind the salt!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

7 October 2017

A comic based on actual events, Produced by Rose Pink and Nut Brown.  I love the panel where Nut Brown burps and Rose Pink says, "Ahem!"

Thursday, October 5, 2017

5 October 2017

We were invited to a pre-session brunch on Sunday morning at a friend's house, and Rose Pink and I decided to make breakfast casserole muffins - bread, sausage and cheese with beaten eggs and milk poured over it and baked.  She made a batch on Saturday afternoon, by herself.  We ended up eating those for dinner (yum) so I asked Nut Brown to make a second batch for the next morning, and he did.  In spite of greasing the muffin tins very well, it took forever to get them clean.  I spent more time scrubbing the tins than we spent making and baking them muffins!!  And I whined about it big time to Rose Pink, who thought it was a little bit funny that I was complaining so much.  So when the second batch had cooled and I'd wrapped up the muffins and put them in the fridge, I tiptoed into Rose Pink's room and told her that there was NO WAY I was going to wash those two pans tonight.  She whispered back that I had to and I said absolutely not, and I left them to 'soak'.  The next morning I washed one of the two, and then made two more pans of regular muffins also for the brunch.  That evening, Rose Pink told me that as a favor she would wash the muffin pans!  She didn't realize I hadn't washed the last breakfast casserole muffin pan but when I pointed this out to her, she gamely agreed to wash it.  It took her thirty minutes, and probably an equal amount of complaining.  Okay, less complaining than me because she is more awesome.  She and I then agreed that we were never making breakfast casserole muffins again - next time it will be a 9 x 13 pan.

Monday, October 2, 2017

2 October 2017

Mr. Brown went down to Ft. Myers this weekend as part of a cleanup crew to help with hurricane damage.  We missed him, especially because it was conference weekend!  We did have a good time watching conference and learning.  So great to hear the kids beginning to connect with what the speakers are saying.  After Tad R. Callister's talk about the Book of Mormon, Nut Brown actually turned to me and said, "I really liked that talk.  It explained everything really well."  He also made us all laugh with a remark during Jean B. Bingham's talk.  She said, "What do we do when faced with problems?  Do we turn to the Internet, or look up a how-to book?"  Nut Brown exclained, "Yes, we look in a how-to book!  It's called the Book of Mormon!"

Saturday, September 23, 2017

23 September 2017

Being the youngest means you get training in a lot of things your older siblings weren't allowed to do quite so young.  Nut Brown is enamored of a card game called Smashup at the moment, and Rosebud always wants to participate.  So she is allowed to hold her deck of cards and lay one down sometimes.  She's really remarkably patient with the limited involvement that she's allowed, and when her cards slip out of perfect alignment, she fusses in frustration and hands them to me to straighten up for her.

Monday, September 18, 2017

18 September 2017

Bobo: Papa, next time I play in your world in Terraria, I'm going to wear my "Don't Mess With The Best" shirt, because you are the best!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

17 September 2017

Nut Brown: Mom, I have to tell you something I feel really guilty about.

Mom: Okay.  I'm ready.

Nut Brown: Remember when I was scraping the tar off the floor in the bedroom in Michigan when we were getting ready to sell the house?  And remember how I found a better way to scrape it that made it so much faster?

Mom: I remember.

Nut Brown: Well, it helped to hit the scraper with something to get it unstuck.  Don't try a hammer, though, it will dig into the floor.  I know because I tried it.

Mom: Okay.

Nut Brown: So I tried something else.  I used your lotion bottle, and it broke the bottom of it.

Mom: Which lotion bottle?

Nut Brown: The big one.  The expensive kind you buy online.

Mom: The Aquaphilic?  Oh!  I didn't even notice!  Well, thank you for telling me.  I'll check to make sure it doesn't melt or leak onto anything.... Did you learn anything from that choice?

Nut Brown: No.  Nothing.

Mom: Nothing?

Nut Brown:  Well, I learned not to use stuff made out of plastic as a hammer, because it will break.  And I learned not to use expensive stuff as a hammer either because you'll feel bad if it breaks....  Wow, I know more than I think I do.

Friday, September 15, 2017

15 September 2017

Being in Florida, there are lots of bugs, and lots of bugs that bite. Nut Brown was furiously scratching some bites on his feet during scriptures last night. 

Mom: I know this is hard to believe, but if you ignore the itch, it actually stops.
Nut Brown: I know, Mom.  I learned that the cave man way.
Mom: The cave man way?
Nut Brown: I tried it for myself.  You know, because cave men didn't have anyone to teach them because they were the first ones.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

13 September 2017

A few weeks ago, I said to Nut Brown, "Can I tell you a secret?"  He said, "Yes.... wait, you love me?"  I said, "Yes!" and he said, "That's not much of a secret, Mom."

Monday, September 11, 2017

11 September 2017

Hurricane Irma passed over us after midnight last night, and it was so much wind and so much rain.  It seemed like being on the ocean, with the ebb and flow of the bands as they passed.  Mr. Brown and I played D&D while waiting for the power to go out.  It never did, so we eventually went to bed.  This morning the power was still on, and we found some branches in the yard, a couple roof leaks, and the doors blown off the big shed.  Otherwise, it's all fine, and we have nothing to complain about for our first hurricane!  The kids were relieved that it's over, especially Bobo, who has offered lots of anxious prayers lately about Hurricane Irma.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

I forgot to add, church was cancelled this morning, so we had home church.  Nut Brown set up the pews with the furniture from the front porch that's currently hanging out inside, and made a podium.  We sang "Master The Tempest Is Raging" and had a testimony meeting, and then sang "God Be With You Til We Meet Again" at Bobo's request.  Rose Pink took the other kids off for Primary (she assigned Bobo a talk about following the Spirit) and I went to "Relief Society" in my room and read the Gordon B. Hinckley manual lesson.  It was cute but also surprisingly spiritually refreshing for me.

Also we've been eating everything out of the fridge since we're expecting power loss, which means a vast consumption of eggs.  Mr. Brown has been making lots of cakes and omelets.  The kids have been so pleased to be allowed to consume ice cream in much larger quantities than usual!!

10 September 2017

We've spent the last week worrying and preparing for Hurricane Irma.  We've been in our house for three weeks and although we knew that hurricanes were common here, we were still in unpacking and settling in mode and hadn't started to consider disaster preparation yet.  Well, now we've considered it, and we know exactly what we're going to do as soon as this is over so that we'll be better prepared next time!  Thanks for the welcome party, Irma.

We did a lot of cleanup in the yard, which was great, and we filled sandbags for our doorways.  We were really worried about our windows but fortunately our neighbor up the street came by and offered to help us cover them with scrap he had in his yard.  What a blessing.  Mr. Brown joked about how we're familiar with boarding up in Detroit, but it's usually for a different reason!

I didn't think about what a big difference it would make to me not to be able to see out.  I hate it.  I keep going over and opening the door. 

We're expecting to lose power, and then we'll lose water because our well is powered electrically.  So we have filled the bathtubs and a lot of other containers with water for drinking and flushing.  We took a walk this morning, but it started raining for real after lunch, so I think we're in for good for awhile. Mr. Brown and I have both secretly always wanted to sit through a hurricane, so we'll get to check this one off our bucket list.  I'm very grateful that it looks like it's not going to be Cat 4 winds in our area though, which was one of the predictions that we were working with this week.

So, welcome to Florida, and here's to our first hurricane!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

7 September 2017

In the hotel, we watched a lot of Food Network and HGTV, and when we unpacked in the house, the kids started playing "Chopped" with their plastic food.  They'd bring us dishes comprised of colored plastic vegetables and tell us about how they'd chosen 'for texture' and 'to garnish'.  So funny!!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

5 September 2017

Florida- it's awesome!

5 September 2017

Cousins here for a visit!  My sister and her kids came over Labor Day weekend.  We had a great time together and we're looking forward to seeing each other again soon.  Her kids overlap with our kids in a way that means everyone has someone to play with, which is really nice.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

21 August 2017

We drove up to Charleston, SC for the eclipse and stayed the weekend with our friends the Peers, who very conveniently moved to Charleston this summer!  We left later than we planned because Bobo needed unplanned dental work that resulted in a crown for him, but arrived really late Friday night.  Saturday afternoon we went to the beach and celebrated Nut Brown's tenth birthday.  The beach was amazingly awesome, and I resolved to put together a beach bin so we can definitely make beachgoing part of our life here.  We had so much fun playing in the waves and in the sand and sifting for shells.  Plus no sunburns!

Sunday we went to church and swam in the pool in the evening, and then Monday was eclipse day!  We sat out in the parking lot to watch the sun get slowly covered up, and then be completely darkened.  There were some clouds where we were, but the storm held off until after the eclipse.  It was amazing - we all screamed when it got dark.  The streetlights came on and a bat came out and flew around.  The whole experience was worth the 14 hours of driving time.  We've already called our friends in Dallas and told them to expect us in 2024.

The drive back was not as bad as I thought it might be - there was definitely heavy traffic out of Charleston going south, and it was slow but no serious delays.  What a fabulous experience! We were at the end of our first week in our new house, and it was really hard to break away from unpacking and settling in to drive out of town, but I am so glad we went.

Friday, August 11, 2017

11 August 2017

My parents have sent a steady stream of reading material, games and treats to the hotel for the kids, which has provided some much-needed diversity of intellectual stimulation.  One evening we retrieved a box from the front desk and when we opened it found it full of sunglasses - a dozen plastic pairs.  I wish I'd had a camera to record all of us wearing our sunglasses around the hotel room, long after sundown.  They were such a great gift and have even been helpful outside in the sunlight.  We turned on 'I Wear My Sunglasses At Night' and had a silly time together.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

10 August 2017

So we're fourteen days into our eighteen-day hotel stay, and every night Mr. Brown and I count up how many days are left.  The hotel is very nice, but it's so hard to stuck in-between, unable to work very much towards something when it feels like there's so much to be done.  Plus it would be nice to have a little more space than a one-bedroom hotel suite.

I love having a little kitchen because it means that Mr. Brown can cook for us, at least a little bit.  We brought two full boxes of kitchen supplies, both food and dishes, with us to the hotel.  And having a tiny space means that it takes very little time to clean up.  Plus in a hotel, someone else cleans your bathroom, which is super nice!  The kids have really really enjoyed the pool and have gone swimming almost every day.  Bobo has really made some big strides towards being a real swimmer, and Rosebud's confidence in the water has increased alarmingly.  She and Mr. Brown had a very firm discussion the other day about the fact that she was not allowed to jump in until he had gotten in first to catch her.

This week the daily schedule has fallen into the pattern of wake up, breakfast downstairs, swim, lunch, nap, Mom comes home, evening activities.  It is not unpleasant, although I think everyone feels that they're watching a little too much tv in the afternoons during Rosebud's nap.  Mr. Brown has had lots of cooking shows and lots of cooking ideas, which I look forward to trying once we get settled in the house!  Besides Rosebud's daily nap, we caught and shared a nasty head cold for a few days, which kept both sick and well at home during the day.

We've done some exploring as well - eating at some fun restaurants and checking out ethnic grocery stores.  We've attended our new ward for two Sundays and started introducing ourselves.  We close on the house on Monday, and we'll be very happy to move forward into settled life here in Florida!!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

5 August 2017

We're walking in the park and Mr. Brown is talking to Nut Brown about his birthday.  He points out that there should be lots of piƱatas here for sale, and Nut Brown says, "They ought to be exquisite!"

Saturday, July 29, 2017

29 July 2017

It's been quite a ride but we made it to Florida, established residence in a hotel, and safely stored all our household goods while we wait to close on our new house here.

On Monday, July 24, Spencer picked up the truck and we ferried all our possessions out to the garage.  One of the bishop's sons came over about 3 pm to help and they started loading with the washer and the piano.  The Truscotts came over about the same time and had a last playdate while Karen and I cleaned and talked.  More people came over after work, and we finished loading the truck and cleaning the house about 7:30 pm.  Mr. Brown climbed back in the windows to shut them after we'd locked the doors.  Tiffany Allred came over and cleaned the bathroom and packed the last couple boxes for me, and she invited us to stay over at her house that night. Having finished packing we were anxious to get moving and instead we drove away from Royal Oak and Detroit and Michigan that evening.  It was my favorite time of day in the Michigan summer- the sun is beginning to set and the light from the west is golden and beautiful.  Rose Pink and I cried all the way to the highway.

Right after we got started, we had to stop to get something for kids to eat and for the bathroom.  Next to that giant truck, the minivan looks petite and maneuverable!  Then we drove on and stopped just south of Toledo for the night.  Although it was unplanned and unreserved, it turned out to be our favorite hotel of the trip down.  Also we avoided rush hour traffic the next morning by leaving the night before.  We were exhausted, but restless.

The hotel had a really great breakfast bar the next morning, and Mr. Brown and Nut Brown made all kinds of creative waffles by mixing stuff from the bar into the batter.  The kids loved the juice machine, too.  Right after we got on the road, we passed a sign that said "Tampa    1103 miles" which was a real encouragement to us.  Florida, here we come!  That day we drove 450 miles and went through Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. 

Nut Brown rode the whole way with Mr. Brown in the truck, and everyone else was with me in The Pan.  We talked and sang and played games.  At lunchtime Mr. Brown wanted to stop and get Cincinnati chili, so we did.  Bobo led Rose Pink and I in a game of Green Alligators, and he gave some really fun clues.

Bobo: We didn't pack it, because we selled it.
Rose Pink and I rack our brains.  Crib?  Bicycle? Couch?
Bobo: It has a roof!

In Cincinnati, I almost rear-ended a car that stopped right in front of me (on the highway) but fortunately dived around it at the last minute.  Mr. Brown had safely passed the erratic driver a couple minutes earlier and I was so glad that it was the minivan that had to brake suddenly instead of the moving truck.

Bobo got to practice being OAB (oldest available Brown) with Rosebud in the back.  He and Rosebud played this game where he would say, "Say Wingardium Leviosa!" and she would should some baby babble, and he would toss her boppy to her.  They had a good time.  After lunch, Rosebud went to sleep, and Rose Pink and I decided to sing "99 Bottles Of Beer".  We sang all the verses to the whole song, and discovered that Bobo had also fallen asleep.  Rose Pink went back and laid his chair back down a bit so he could sleep better, but he woke up a bit.  So we sang "There's A Hole In My Bucket" (all the verses) and he went right back to sleep.

Rose Pink collected license plates all day, and we got 40 states plus Ontario and Quebec.  That night we stopped at a hotel in Knoxville, and when we pulled the truck in, we realized that there was no pull-through for it.  Oh dear, oh dear.  There was some very tense discussion, and then I went to ask some guys nearby if they could move their pickup so we'd have less chance of hitting it when we tried to back up, and they offered to back the truck up for us.  What a gift from God!  They backed it up and reparked it in about fifteen minutes so we could pull straight out the next morning. 

That night we swam at the motel - it had a larger than usual pool.  On Monday night we'd noticed some colored fluid leaking at the back of the truck, but we weren't sure what it was - it was dripping.  Tuesday night, Mr. Brown said to me, did anyone put a bottle of dish soap in the back of the moving van?  I said, I did tell them that I wanted to take it with me.  He said, I think they just set it in the back.  We gave thanks that there was nothing wrong with the truck and decided we'd worry about cleaning it up when we got to Florida.

Wednesday we drove 500 miles and went through Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. The drive across North Carolina was through the Smoky Mountains, and it was so beautiful!  We found it suggested to us when we were googling the best way to drive from Michigan to Florida, and found a newspaper column from a Michigander who had made the drive dozens of times and talked about the pros and cons of several routes.  It felt like another tender mercy as we were making our plans.

I improved my sign-making communications skills.  Mr. Brown and I communicated while driving via signs written on paper with a sharpie and held up by Rose Pink as I sped up to pass him.  It was a little difficult to figure out for me and frustrating for Mr. Brown at first, but I got better with feedback.  There was more talking and singing and also more audiobook on day 2.  Mr. Brown and Nut Brown ran out of audiobook in the truck and we swapped memory sticks with them.  The air conditioning wasn't working so well so they had to ride with the windows down.  He offered Rose Pink a chance to ride in the truck, but she opted for the minivan.  He and Nut Brown were pretty in love with the truck anyway so it was just as well.

In our hotel in Georgia that night, we had rooms that were way down the hall from each other, which was uncomfortable.  The boys ended up in one room and girls in the other, and we just used the beds in the one instead of moving into it at all.  We swam that morning before checking out, because Thursday was the last day of driving, and we only had 240 miles to go.  The kids were relieved to have such a short day of driving in front of them! 

We pulled into the hotel in Orlando, found a place to put the truck, checked in, and then kind of stood around a little stunned at how far we'd come safely.  Mr. Brown opened the truck and discovered that someone had indeed set the bottle of dish soap loose in the back of the truck, that it had fallen over and had been leaking its contents.  The nozzle had landed over a small hole in the deck though, and so there was very minimal cleanup - all the soap had run out of the truck.  Truly God was watching out for us.

Friday July 28 we did some more settling in - figuring out where stores are, unpacking more stuff out of the cars into the hotel, and then we went to see the house that we bought.  So far Mr. Brown is the only one who had actually seen it- we put in an offer after a cell phone tour.  It was so great to go and walk through it - I'm super excited to move in now, and it feels like it will be a great place for our family.  I was nervous about it, but as soon as Mr. Brown turned down the road where it's located I felt like I was in the right place, and that sense of rightness continued during the walkthrough.

Friday night we unloaded the truck into a storage unit.  My brother Chris drove over from Tampa with a friend of his to help, thank goodness.  It took us five hours!  The kids were such troopers and managed everything so well.  Mr. Brown and Chris packed that storage unit - we got everything in except the hose reel, which we put back in the car.  There were two casualties- the concrete chicken fell over and knocked its head off, and the changing table toppled from the cart and was smashed.  We threw it away.  We were almost done with it anyway.  That was a late night.  I'm so glad it was Friday night instead of Saturday night, because now we have all of Saturday to recover and get ready for church on Sunday.

What a ride!  And here we are!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

23 July 2017

gonna miss my raspberries

Friday, July 21, 2017

21 July 2017

First, all my kids have begun by pronouncing the word 'crayon' with one syllable - usually something like 'crann'.  They have also always begun with the word 'library' as 'liberry' (which is common beyond my children).  The kids were sorting out their crayons on the floor the other day.  When we asked them to clean up, they packed the crayons into bags very carefully, which seemed odd but whatever.  Then Bobo started talking about fruit and after a minute of listening we figured out that they had created a 'cranberry' - a crayon library.  Bobo was very pleased with his pun.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sunday, July 16, 2017

16 July 2017

It's hard to go to bed at eight pm when the sun goes down at 9:30.  The other night, Bobo says to me, "Mama, I have a dilemma."  I ask what it is.  He says, "My bottom half wants to go to sleep, but my top half wants to stay awake!"

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

12 July 2017

The kids are in love with a series of books from the library called 'Super Pets' which adds a new dimension to the DC comic universe by inventing pets with superpowers for all the superheroes.  The pets are the stars of the books.  Nut Brown and Bobo have learned how to put books on hold at the library so they could get more of these books.  Nut Brown has started writing one of his own!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

11 July 2017

Mr. Brown is in Florida for three days, visiting our house and attending the inspections, so I'm home with kiddos.  Bobo's ninja turtle bike helmet somehow made it into the house, and Rosebud is completely enamored, wearing it all the time and refusing to give it back to him.

Friday, July 7, 2017

7 July 2017

I was having a firm conversation with Rosebud the other day about not having any more cookies.  I said, "One cookie is enough for a little girl, no more!  Just one cookie."  And Rose Pink, who was listening, added, "unless it's one for each hand!"  The older she gets, the funnier she is. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

5 July 2017

Nut Brown has invented a new games called "Hogwarts Sorry".  (They're listening to Harry Potter #3 on audiobook at the moment.)  He made his own board and we use Sorry people and the Sorry card deck.  You hurry around the board to go from common room to great hall to classes, where you get grades, and then back to the common room at the end of the day.  It's really fun!  Easy enough that Bobo can play with us by himself.  He won the inaugural game - he was Gryffindor.

Monday, July 3, 2017

3 July 2017

Rose Pink went away to our church girls' camp last week... we missed her so much!  She didn't miss us though... she was busy having fun and learning and meeting people.  She had a total blast.  Nut Brown especially missed her in the evenings, but we all missed her and are glad she's home.  She is glad she went!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

2 July 2017

We put in an offer on a house we haven't gone to see... the realtor walked us through it on his cell phone, and we watched on our friends' iPad.  My brother Chris went through it for us too and gave it a thumbs up.  It's in the middle of the city, but feels rural - it's unincorporated, has a well and a septic tank, a chicken coop and an acre of land.  When we prayed about it, it was clear that this property is a gift to us from God.  We're super excited!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

1 July 2017

We finally got the call from Florida!  After two more agonizing months since the end of the federal-wide hiring freeze, we were beginning to toy with the idea of staying here - that maybe the lessons to be learned were all in the preparation, and besides which our house was already sold so we had to find somewhere to live.  On Friday I called and told Florida very seriously that I was done waiting, and said if I hadn't heard anything in a week, I was going to withdraw my acceptance.  My incoming supervisor pulled some strings, I got the firm job offer on Monday, with a start date of 24 July.  Florida, here we come!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

13 June 2017

And here is some true fandom - the kids made their own deck of Star Wars playing cards, with all unique characters.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

11 June 2017

Rosebud wasn't so sure about the photographer - so a lot of the pictures have her crying or giving him the evil eye.  Mr. Brown thinks she thought he was a nurse coming to give her a shot - he had some handheld equipment that might look like that to a one-year-old.  For this photo, Mr. Brown turned on the Hamster Dance, and she just lit up, in spite of the photographer.

There is no way to describe her charm.  She's learning more and more words and signs, and she listens and understands so much when we talk to her.  She's very affectionate and so darling - we all love her so much.  She's started feeding herself with a fork- because she is a BIG GIRL and knows how it's done.

Friday, June 9, 2017

9 June 2017

 The sandbox has been played in a lot this summer, especially since all the other toys are basically packed up.

We think we may have clogged the pipes in the bathtub with sand.  :-(

 Mr. Brown built this for them a couple years ago.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

7 June 2017

Nut Brown to Rose Pink: Would you rather be a pajama snake, or a pajama snake?

Rose Pink: That's not very many choices!