Sunday, April 30, 2017

Science Fair 2017

When it takes me forever to blog about something, it's usually because I'm busy.  Every once in a while, I may hold off from sharing because I'm not emotionally ready to process the experience. Science Fair 2017 falls into the latter category.

Oh my heavens.  January just about killed me.  The kids went back to school and were immediately assaulted by projects out the wazoo, including three intense science fair presentations.  While I firmly believe that science fair projects belong to the student and should reflect their ideas and research, just coaching the munchkins through the process felt like a full-time job.  (And gave me a few gray hairs to boot.)

Talia's was the easiest.  She stuck fruit in mason jars to see what (if anything) would happen.  Turns out that unless you're a banana, not much changes in two weeks.

She worked with a classmate Nora who did the same with vegetables.  Her friend stuck the veggies in plastic baggies, so by the end of two weeks she had all sorts of colorful goop growing.   Hopefully the girls learned a bit about controlling variables, and why we use canning jars instead of ziplocs for preserving.

While the project itself may not have earned a blue ribbon, I was super proud of Talia and Nora's initiative in designing and executing the experiment by themselves.  The only help Talia asked for was with logging onto the computer and printing pictures.

For his project, Eli decided that he wanted to test which kind of paper airplane flies the furthest.  In desperate need of a calm, uninterrupted chunk of time to help him, I kept Eli home one day so we could research and build five different models.

He tested the aiplanes, recorded the data, and made some graphs to show his results.  Turns out that when it comes to distance, your classic model is best.

And now for Brooklyn.  Oh my.  If it weren't for the amazing Christy Spackman mentoring Brooklyn through the process, I probably would have had a major meltdown.  At first Brooklyn wanted to test the strength of various balloons by filling them with shaving cream and popping them. (Really?!!)  Thank heavens Christy appealed to Brooklyn's inner baker and suggested that they could experiment with different kinds of fat in cookies.  Once the project got rolling, it was really quite interesting.   Brooklyn learned a ton about different fat structures, ratios, statistics, sensory tasting, and of course baking.   Here's Brooklyn in the midst of baking her first batch of gingersnaps.

Gingersnaps as made per the original recipe.

They look (and taste) quite different when you substitute coconut oil.

Nearly done.  Ta da!

A side by side comparison of the samples: shortening, olive oil, coconut oil, and butter, respectively.

Finishing up her project board at midnight the night before.  Like mother, like daughter.

After so much hard work, it was wonderful to see Brooklyn's project come together so well.

Happily presenting her research.

To all of the Wheeler munchkins, we are proud of you and the hard work you put into your projects.  May your enthusiasm for science and learning continue on (and may the science fair not return for at least another year.)

Greg Hearts Utah Snow

Posting snow pictures while the tulips are in full bloom seems a bit silly, but not as silly as not sharing them at all.  Rewind back to the beginning of March and we hosted more family from Long Island--Cousin Gregory!  Greg stayed for a week, spending lots of quality time on the ski slopes.  Hard to believe I once cradled this dapper dude as a week-old babe.

We dragged Greg to a Red Rocks University of Utah gymnastics meet on his first night here.

Annika's temporary tattoo ended up lasting for more than a week, much to Jason's horror.

With over 10,000 fans in attendance, the gymnastics meet was surprisingly awesome.

Jason skipped out of work one day to ski with Greg at Alta.  We had tons of fresh snow, so Greg was in heaven.  I personally think Jason really rocks Brooklyn's helmet, don't you?

Gregory John, the Utah mountains suit you well!

They look good on you too, PB.

On Saturday, Greg accompanied the entire family up to Brighton where kids 10 and under ski free.

We were all seriously impressed by Greg's skills in the fresh powder.

The big kids can handle just about any of the runs now, provided their snowplow is wide enough.

Greg rode with Annika for her very first time on the ski lift.

Without a doubt, she thought riding up the mini-mountain was way cooler than skiing down it.  Made it almost worth the interminably long lift line.

With so much skiing and snowboarding to be done, we didn't hang out tons at home.  However, our last supper together was pretty memorable.  Greg reminded me how years ago I made his whole family dine on sadza after I flew back from Zimbabwe.  Naturally we had to recreate the experience.  The kids certainly enjoyed eating on the floor.

Here's Jason dipping his sadza into the "relish" (the term for whatever dish accompanies your sadza.  For those who are unfamiliar, sadza is a Zimbabwean staple, eaten at nearly every main meal.  To make sadza, you vigorously stir corn meal into boiling water until the mixture becomes stiff enough to roll into a ball with your fingers.  (Be careful not to leave any lumps or you will have unwittingly made mbodza.)  As for our two relishes, I made one with tomato and onion, and the other from peanut butter and kale.  To be truly authentic, the tomato relish should have had a few chunks of goat meat.

Jason once more, looking (nearly) Zimbabwean.
Thanks so much for coming, Greg! We loved sharing the Utah snow, Salt Lake mountains, and our Avenues home with you.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Why I'm Grateful that Sunday is a Day of Rest

Once again, I find myself groggy and fuzzy-headed as I try to catch up on this blog.  Looking back at the day, it's no wonder I'm tired.  Even with Jason and Annika gone at a wedding in Boise, today's Saturday schedule was intense:

6:20 am Wake-Up
6:55 am Head out for a 13 mile run up City Creek Canyon
7:30 am Stop to cheer on a few Salt Lake City marathoners at the hair pin turn in Memory Grove
9:10 am Shower and Breakfast
10:00 am Take the kids for a walk through Temple Square to see the flowers (Gorgeous!)
10:45 am Drop Brooklyn off at Abravanel Hall to join her classmate for some Gershwin with the Salt Lake Symphony
11:15 am Quick grocery run to Smith's
11:30 am Team pictures for Eli's Silverback baseball team
12:30 pm Eli's T-Ball game
2:00 pm Avenues Baseball player introductions
3:00 pm Snag a bowl of cereal for lunch, followed by a quick nap. Hallelujah!
4:00 pm Bring Talia to a friend's house for dinner and playtime
4:30 pm Primary choir rehearsal for stake conference
5:45 pm Drop by the library to pick up some French language books for Brooklyn
6:15 pm Casual dinner of sweet potatoes topped with avocado, ham, and sour cream  (Necessity is the mother of invention.)
6:40 pm Drop Brooklyn off for an evening of babysitting
7:00 pm Finally get around to the day's chores.  Throw a bunch of really stinky running clothes into the washer.
8:00 pm Pick up Talia
8:15 pm Come home for a bowl of ice cream and some Lego bonding time
9:30 pm  Oops!  Realize that you lost track of time and it's way too late.  Clean up a bazillion Legos.
9:45 pm Teeth brushing and family prayer.  Tuck Talia and Eli into bed and blog until...
10:45 pm Brooklyn gets back from babysitting

Well, whaddayaknow!  Now it's 11:00 and time to sleep.  Guess catching up on the blog will have to wait because this gal needs some zzzs.  Good night!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Ensign Peak

I'm missing my hubby tonight.  I thought I'd post a few pictures from Ensign Peak to remind him why he should come back to Salt Lake soon.  Our friend Kate came to visit us from DC and suggested we all try this gem of a hike.  I'm so glad we did!

Sure love you, Peanut Butter!

This is the place.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Quite the Conglomeration

Like many of my recent posts, this one is quite the conglomeration of random photos.  Hope you enjoy the mish mosh.

This is me in my happy place--reading to the kids.  I think this pic may have been taken a day or two after we moved into our new home.  Comfy carpet, jammies, and a good book.  What else do you need?

Next up, we have Eli holding the tooth fairy's latest acquisition.  Talk about a gap-tooth smile!

Coloring a mural in preschool...

...and playing Klask with my favorite monkeys.

Talia playing recorder during her class "Informance."  In Sibelius's honor, they played Finlandia and then sang it in Finnish.

Next up, art time at the main library.

The kids were creating impressionistic water lilies a la Monet.

Moving right along, here are Brooklyn and her friend working the cookie booth.  Speaking of which, we have extra s'mores cookies for sale, should anybody want some.

While the big girls were working the cookie booth, Jason and the littles set up our new trampoline.  We had three glorious weeks before an enormous tree came crashing down and destroyed the net.  (Sad sigh.)  More on that drama later...

Music and the Spoken Word is the perfect place to cultivate a gratitude attitude, despite life's rocky (or in the case of our tree, woody) challenges.  I feel blessed every time I get to share the experience with my daughter.

I don't remember for certain when this picture was taken, but I strongly suspect it was when we drove all the way up to Logan to mooch Sunday dinner off Grandma Susie and Grandpa Charles.

A family pilgrimage to the "U".  What a traitorous cougar am I!

And a glimpse over the valley.

Our crazy lives truly are quite the conglomeration of chaos, but I wouldn't have it any other way.