Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Daily Chuckles

The quote board just happens to have one quote from each kid on it right now, so I thought I would share.  A few names have been changed to protect the (not so?) innocent.
 . . .
Mom: We've been invited over to the Jones's for a barbecue tonight.
Brooklyn:  Yay!  Wait, does that mean I have to babysit Jimmy?
 . . .
Mom:  The Dan Vams had a baby and named her Lily!
Talia:  You mean they named it already?  (Can you tell our family has a habit of being slow name-givers?)
 . . .
Eli (showing Mom his artwork on display in the school hallway):  Can you guess which one is mine?
Mom:  No, which?
Eli:  Mine is the one with no name on it.  They wrote that guessy mark on it because they thought it was extra special.
 . . .
Annika (speaking to her Mom, who just reached for a book from off the top shelf):  You TALL, Mommy.  You so TALL!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Mileage Club 2016

Mileage Club 2016--'Cause it's my blog and I will post what I want to.  And today, that needs to be a series of links about Mileage Club so that all of this is gathered and accessible in the future.  Can you tell we're wrapping things up?

Mileage Club Cards:  (Just print the first page on whatever colors of  paper you need to Run the Rainbow.)

Toe Charms:

Laminating Pouches: (Packs of 500, 5mil, 2 1/4 x 3 3/4", purchased through Amazon from Oregon Lamination Premium for $11.23)
Link to Laminator Sleeves

Necklaces:  (Packs of 100, 30 inch nickel steel plated #3, purchased through Amazon from Ball Chain Manufacturing for $29)
Link to Necklaces

Prizes:  In the past, we have had success with donations from Defy Gravity, Girls on the Run, Peak Running, and Red Dirt Running Company.  We have also supplemented with some Target Gift Cards. 

Here's an approximate number of each color card that was handed out in 2016 (6 week program.)  Each 16 punch card represents 3.65 miles (that's 0.23 miles per lap around the Crestridge track.)  The actual totals for orange and yellow cards handed out might be a little bit higher since not every student had their rainbow necklace recorded.

Red:  425
Orange:  126
Yellow:  110
Green:  92
Blue:  73
Purple:  56
Pink:  43
White:  36
Black:  28
Silver:  19
Gold:  15

Total: 1023

School Total for 2016:  Upwards of 2500 miles!  Way to go, Crestridge.

And, since this is a family blog, I'll let you know that I tallied up Talia's running from this year and last, and she recorded 99.7 miles.  I'm rounding up to call her a Hundred Miler.   Way to go Talia!  And Brooklyn, thanks for starting such an amazing program.  You kids inspire us all.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Random posts are my favorite.  No use trying to develop any sense of connectivity or purpose...just enjoy our silliness at its finest.

Enjoying root beer floats before bed.  Does anybody else sense the irony in eating ice cream on the floor in front of the heater vent?  I think our kids are really going to miss that hot spot.

Here's Talia playing the Penny Flour Game.

We have a winner!

Definitely backtracking, here we are sledding in front of our home.  (Or more accurately, the Synowiecki's home.)

Jason gives Annika a snowy piggy back ride on the bike trail.

Brooklyn worked hard to create this perfectly molded snow egg.

At Alley Poyner Macchietto, the kids get to work along with their parents.  Here's Talia stickering her opinion at a Design Charette.

Brooklyn and Eli decide which designs they like best.

That one!

On Jason's birthday, we went for a bike ride to the Missouri river's edge for a picnic.

The Jimmy John's man even sent birthday wishes.

Here's Ben Turner, the bike guru who led our brief expedition and manages Omaha's B-Cycle program. 

Of course, biking may be fun, but pales in comparison to leaping onto gigantic inflatables.  Here's Talia's friend Adelle at Bounce U where we celebrated several birthdays.

Annika preferred riding the worm with her pal Joey.

Talia shares a bright smile.

And one more photo of some favorite third graders during a party at the Lawler's home.  I know all of the girls (LaShauna, Elena, Johanna, Erika, Talia, and Lily) but only one of the boys...Andrew.

Talia knows how to party at school too.  Here she is with some pretty amazing face paint at the Crestridge carnival.

Annika's face paint may not have been as fancy, but she's still adorable.

Most days, however, Talia works pretty hard at school.  Here she is volunteering to help punch Mileage Club cards. 

Mileage Club 2016 is running strong as ever, even without as much help from the Wheeler family.  Many other parents have really stepped up this year.

Thanks, Brooklyn, for starting such a magnificent program.

Back on the homefront, Annika sure loves to dress up.

Her big sister Brooklyn can be found in some unique garb too.

Oh wait, back to Annie, who apparently found the morning sun too bright for her breakfast dining.

And at the zoo with her swimsuit in hand.  She carries the darn thing everywhere if I let her.

One final photo, just for kicks and giggles.

Hope you've enjoyed these random glimpses into a day in the life of the Wheelers.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Happy 13th Anniversary!

Thirteen years ago today Jason and I were married in the Logan Temple.  The weather was pretty much like it is here at the moment--overcast gray, drizzling rain.  Yet despite the factual evidence of the photographs, in my memory the entire day is Peanut Butter Sunshine and Jelly Smiles.

Thirteen years later that Peanut Butter Sun is still shining, despite the inevitable storms.  In honor of our anniversary, I wanted to share thirteen reasons why I love my hubby.

1)  Jason works so very hard to provide for our family.   Because Jason handles stress well, it's easy to forget what a relentless responsibility this is.  He works hard all day at the office, then starts pitching in here the moment he gets home.  With yesterday being Mother's Day, I felt keenly aware that the only reason I am lucky enough to stay home with our kids is because Jason provides so capably.  Rarely do I take the time to thank him, so please indulge me.  Thank you, love.

2)  Jason can figure out how to fix just about anything.  This resourcefulness is a key reason we are able to get by on a single income.  A trait he acquired from his Dad, Jason has saved us a small fortune on repair bills over the years.  This past weekend, he rescued our water heater from oblivion.  Hooray for hot showers!

3)  Jason supports me as I dream big.  While Jason may be the primary breadwinner of our family right now, he encourages me to pursue my own dreams and career goals as well.  Before Jason was offered the directorship of ASSIST in Salt Lake, he encouraged me to apply for an English Language Fellowship teaching overseas.  While a fellowship placement didn't work out for our family, if it had, I have no doubt that he would have been willing to set aside his own job for a year so that I could reboot my ESL career and we could all have another overseas adventure.

4)  Jason won't kill the snakes.  Okay, so I like snakes just about as much as I like spiders.  Unfortunately for me, a family of garter snakes likes our yard.  While in my mind it's a husbandly duty to make them disappear, he pretty much refuses. In the big scheme of things, I suppose this really is a good thing.  Jason has great respect and charity for all living things--even those that slither.  (Shudder.)

5)  Jason loves the outdoors.  It will come as no big surprise that the outdoor scene is a huge perk with our move West.  However, Jason's outdoor love is expressed here in the Midwest too where he rides his bike in all sorts of weather.  His deep desire to care for the earth is rarely stated in words but eloquently expressed over and over again through his actions.

6)  Jason takes forever putting the kids to bed.  8:30 bedtime is frequently stretched out past nine because Jason is reading to the kids.  I don't know who loves it more--the kids or Jason.  Either way, the quality time together is certainly worth more than a few extra winks.  (Hard for me to remember when Grouchy Mama just wants everyone to go to sleep so that she can sleep too.)

7)  Jason bakes amazing desserts.  If Jason acquired his fix-it-all skills from his Dad, he acquired his bake-it-all skills from his Mom.  Cheesecake, apple pie, banana cream pie, no bakes, rice pudding, tapioca pudding, homemade ice cream--Jason does it all.  His desserts are famous.  Thirteen years ago, his New York cheesecake (pure and unadulterated) won my heart.  More recently, he won over the youth in our ward who just yesterday were begging him to bake the desserts for his own farewell party.

8)  Jason is an incredible artist.  Okay, I lied.  I said that Jason's cheesecake won over my heart, but it was really his art.  The moment Jason sent me a sketch in Peru, I was smitten.  I spent hours analyzing the small drawing of a person slipping a love letter under a locked door.  Was my heart locked or was his?  Would the door open?  Did he mean to be flirtatious or were we just friends?  While most of those questions have been resolved (thank heavens), the sketches continue.  And truthfully, each one still amazes my heart.  If you've ever sat in a meeting with Jason, chances are that he has sketched you.  Here are just a few I found among our photos:

9)  No matter how busy he is, Jason makes family a priority.  When it come to meaningful and important events, he is there, even if it means long days with little sleep.

10)  Jason is courageous.  Not only does he willingly toss himself (and other family members) off cliffs, he is willing to take risks and try something new, even when it's a bit scary.

11)  Jason is both patient and forgiving.  After thirteen years of being married to me, he's had plenty of opportunities to practice.

12)   Jason is a man of great integrity.  I wish he would run for President.

13)  Last but not least, let's not forget devilishly handsome.

Happy Anniversary, Peanut Butter!

Friday, May 06, 2016

ArtVenture 2016

Catch-up or bust!  We're almost there, which is a good thing too, because life is moving forward full-speed.   Last night the littler kids and I went to a bat releasing at the Joslyn while Talia was at gymnastics and Brooklyn was performing at an area wide music concert where she played the cello, trumpet, and sang.  This morning I'm headed to the zoo with Eli's kindergarten class before hopping over to Do Space for the second level of Brooklyn's Read 2 Succeed competition.  All this before the Creighton baseball game that's scheduled for this evening.  (I told the YMCA I couldn't work their Family Night.)  Then tomorrow morning...well, you get the idea.

So the subject of this post--ArtVenture.  Yet another really cool Omaha thing that we will miss dearly.  Our Girl Scout Council matches young girls with local artists to create some pretty fantastic collaborative works of art which are then auctioned off as a fundraiser.  Here's Talia creating some pottery at Hot Shops, along with her good friend, Elena.

The rest of the Brownies were from other troops around Omaha.  I like how ArtVenture gives them a chance to meet one another.
Tim Barry, the man who runs this pottery studio, is amazing.  He is so great at inspiring youth to put down technology and be creative.

Passing around a wet clay bowl.

They each got to decorate a mug to bring home.  Talia's is the blue one with an elephant on top.

The unglazed piece is the cookie jar they created as a group.  Each girl contributed a turtle and a snail.

And now for the masterpiece.

Talia was pretty proud.

As for Brooklyn, she dabbled in oil painting with the most wonderful mentor, Ann Pape.  In addition to creating some canvases of their own, they each decorated a cupcake.  (Ann even brought them cupcakes from Jones Brothers as tasty inspiration.

This cupcake was Brooklyn's.  Love the texture!

NomiAnn sure enjoyed coming to see her granddaughters' art.

Eila too!  ('Cause I know you were thinking, gosh, they sure didn't do much while she was there.)  This was her last stop before heading straight to the airport to go home and see Zoe and Daddy.

There were so many amazing pieces of art that I can't begin to share them all, so I'll just post my favorite: a rangoli art installation created with an internationally recognized artist from Singapore.  So beautiful!

ArtVenture, we'll miss you!

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Birthday Gardens

April is a great birthday month for our family, with Papa Kay celebrating his at the beginning of the month and NomiAnn celebrating hers at the end.  This year, Talia did a great job decorating her grandpa's bunny cake all on her own.

As a birthday present, we got NomiAnn and Papa Kay a grandparents' membership to Lauritzen Gardens.  Naturally Annie and I had to stop by ahead of time to explore and make sure the place is still worth seeing.

It certainly is! This replica of Central High always reminds us of NomiAnn and her beautiful school.

While the trains weren't yet running, Annika enjoyed watching all of the wild turkeys.  They seem to have overrun Omaha.  Last weekend I spotted a couple in my parents' backyard.

Daffodils and tulips were just barely poking through.

As our wedding flower, tulips always make me happy.

 Annika, of course, was most intrigued by the single dandelion she found.  Unlike the other flowers, I let her pick this one.

Inside the conservatory, they had an amazing Gardens Under Glass exhibit going on.  I absolutely loved the mix of created and natural beauty.

This Chenille plant was real, but the "pipe cleaners" felt so soft it seemed fake.

Glass Birds of Paradise.

Jason said I shouldn't put up too many pictures, but I just can't help myself.  They make me happy.  :)

The conservatory has grown up so beautifully since I last visited.

 Where else in Omaha can you see how bananas grow on trees?  I was blown away by the size of the banana leaves.  While serving a mission among Cambodian refugees in DC, I met a woman who gave birth in the jungle while fleeing the Khmer Rouge.  In describing the experience to me, she explained how she laid her newborn baby on a bed of banana leaves.  (At least for a moment--they moved on quickly for fear of attracting tigers.)  Now I can imagine her wrapping her babe in a leaf, almost like a blanket.

Crystal droplets falling into glass lily pads.

Jason suggested that I not put up too many pictures, but I can't help myself.  They make me happy.

Pretty pansies, albeit neither little nor purple.

The look on Annika's face in this picture is pretty hilarious.  This is what you happens when you're way too old to go poops in your undies but you do it anyway.  Yuck!

Connecting with an elephant.

We had such a great time visiting the glass gardens that we came back on Papa Kay's birthday to see them all lit up at night.

Happy birthday, Andrus grandparents!  You make our hearts glow.