Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

This season was wonderful even though there were a lot of flubs.  The three biggest flub ups--putting up Christmas lights 4 different times because the first was just to put on the hanging plastic things.  The second trip to the roof was to put up a set of icicle lights that wouldn't hang down due to the sub zero temperatures (that's right--I said sub zero in the same sentence as light hanging).  The third try was fantastic except I would of had to have an outlet for each set!  Who invented those lights needs to be fired.  Fourth and final try was twinkling snowflakes that ran the perimeter of the house.  Even though 2 casings of snowflakes busted and a row of 5 snowflakes won't stay lit, I am not going up again until March or April when Alaskans take down their lights.

Number two and probably the most difficult for me was the live Christmas tree that didn't happen this year.  We tried the weekend of Thanksgiving (our usual Christmas tree purchasing time) and found over priced trees that already looked like a fire hazard.  Weekend after weekend, we searched. We even tried to cut down our own Christmas tree on base.  We went several times to sign in at an office that always seemed closed when we got there.  Then on a -1 degree day we discovered that we signed in on line.  The waist deep snow and freezing temperatures should have made us leave before we started.  Bent on finding a tree we trudged through the snow and found a bunch of Charlie Brown trees in all heights.  When I could no longer feel my toes, I decided we should hike back to the van.  Tiago, not wanting to leave empty handed, chopped down this sapling and we left with all our fingers and toes attached.  Luckily, I got a free fake tree for helping sort things at the Airman's Attic.  The kids decorated it in their toy room and that was about the extent of Holiday decorating.
At least there were awesome icicles.
Trying to find the tree.

The extent of my crafting abilities--our advent calendar!
Aside from that, we had fun with our Advent Calendar with various activities that matched up with scriptures.  For example, we read Mark 10:13-14 and talked about how children were very important to Christ.  Then we went sledding to try to be childlike.  Another night we read Doctrine and Covenants 1:37 about how we need to study and obey Christ commandments.  We talked about how it can be easy or hard sometimes to obey.  We then tried to draw snowmen on our heads without looking (for hard to obey) and then made a snowman on our fridge for an easy obedience activity and hand snowmen pancakes for dinner.

Yummy Pancakes

Joaquin discovering whipped cream!

We have loved living here because it is really easy to find activities to get into the season.  The city just north of us (Palmer AK) had a huge Christmas celebration.  We didn't understand the extent of it and so we missed most of the fun the first day.  Sunday, we drove up for the Nativities and the kids accidentally crashed a live Nativity play.  They told us we could dress up.  So we did.  Then we were ushered on stage to take part in their ward's rendition of the Nativity.

We went to a tree lighting ceremony with a Santa who was pulled to the tree by several live reindeer in an open sleigh.  There were cookies and hot chocolate and choirs of angels (or at least sweet little kids singing).

Joaquin pointing downhill to let me know it's time to stop the pictures and go!

We went sledding tons (joaquin loves sledding) and even got the chance to ride around a frozen lake in a dog sled.  I was so glad we had just bought hand warmers and mitten style gloves and brought blankets cause it was a chilly ride.

Christmas Eve we dressed up as Santa, reindeer, and an Elf to score free lift tickets at the ski resort on Elmendorf AFB.  We didn't really make it over to the lifts and practiced skiing down the bunny hill.  Then joined our fellow ward members at their yearly sled and feed at the Golden Corral.  It was fun.  Tiago loved Golden Corral.  He said "That was the best restaurant ever.  You can eat until you are full!"  I think we need to start saving for teenage years.

Corraling it up!

To make things a little more exciting, we moved the Christmas tree from the upstairs toy room down to the living room while the kids slept.  We also put on the Christmas tree lights and star with gold dangling stars hanging from around the tree on the ceiling.  Christmas morning they woke up to this obstacle course outside their room.  It was so cute to hear their exclamations upon finding this red streamer surprise.  Talia exclaimed "Oh, Santa is such a good man.  He decorated our house for Christmas!"  Tiago said "He is so clever."  Mia just giggled and all of them tried it multiple times.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Joaquin Antics

I love Joaquin.  Everyone in our house is in love with him.  It is so fun to watch him do his little antics. For example, when he sees a stuffed animal, he will pick it up and give it a hug and a kiss.  (probably because that is what everyone does to him).  Also, he will go to whomever is crying to hug and kiss on them until he feels like they should be better.  When you tell him you love him, he will make a kissing sound.  I could go on and on, but thought I would share this silly habit he has in video format.  He has found the best way to store all the toys he is interested in playing with for now or later.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

Santa Has Come to Town

Even though it was negative some odd degrees tonight, it was magical watching Santa pull into our little town on a reindeer pulled sleigh to light our town's Christmas tree.  It was really fun listening to our school's choir sing Christmas songs while we enjoyed free hot chocolate and cookies.  The kids were sad (read furious) that I didn't remember to bring sleds for the hill.  I am glad we didn't though.  It gets dark at 4:00pm these days and I really didn't love the idea of trying to see my kids slide down the hills in the dark.  Super fun way to bust into the holiday season. (thank heavens a friend got this video.  I was busy trying to keep Joaquin from frost bite and keep my eyes on the rest of my crew since Fernando got stuck at the hospital).  Luckily, we got an accidental sneak peek when we found the best parking spot of the night.  I happened to see some Reindeer in the adjoining parking lot and suggested that we take a look while everyone was distracted by the freebies.  While watching the reindeer romp around the parking lot, Talia saw Santa.  We quickly (upon her insistentce) over to see him.  He politely asked everyone's name and then took a picture with us.  He also then politely reminded us that we should have been waiting for him over by the festivities.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Biting off Too Much?

A resounding yes--I have bitten of more than I can chew on many counts (my backside and middle can attest to that) but now I have really done it.  Frustrated with the various fundraisers forced onto my kids at the various schools they have attended, I decided to do something about it besides gripe.  I am hosting a Turkey Trot for my school the day before Thanksgiving in hopes of getting more funds for cross country skis.  Nothing says "the Holidays" like running in below freezing temperatures, right?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Is that an Idol?

While walking onto the grounds of the Alaska Museum of Art, Tiago saw this sculpture and asked, "Is that an idol?"  Though difficult to see from this picture, it happens to be a metal statue of a walrus, polar bear, eagle, and a few other arctic animals swirling in a wave of . . . .intrigue?  Anyway, I am glad he listens to the scriptures and we had a great discussion between art and worship.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Peeks from Up North

We are in love with our new home.  I wonder if I will ever stop being almost moved to tears while walking around here (especially since winter brings weather cold enough to freeze those tears mid fall). Here are pictures from a hike we did awhile ago.  It was amazing. 

The hike meandered around this beautiful forest and brought us to this gorge. We hopped into this cage to hand tram across this glacier runoff river! 
Tiago was really into this "huh" pose all day.  I tried not to giggle every time he did it.  He would even take a cute one for me and then ask me to repeat the picture with this pose.

I think this was the last time we forgot to take our hiking back pack in the car.  I think that as uncomfortable as it was for Fernando and I to carry him, I was probably even more uncomfortable for Joaquin.

This water was such an amazing color.  In fact all the colors here are incredible.  While we were down by the water, this couple struck up a conversation with us.  Ok, actually, I started the conversation apologizing for ruining their moment after I saw their private picnic set up.  They were totally friendly and welcomed us up to this heaven on earth.  Then they insisted on taking a picture for us.  All I had was my iPhone, but he had this rockin' camera since he was a former journalist.  I am glad we all kind of coordinated.  I just wish that we didn't look so tired and I didn't look like a giant lording over my kingdom.  Still, it was nice of him to take it.

Friday, August 31, 2012


Living in Alaska has proved to be a very unique experience. We have enjoyed so many beautiful things, but aren't in love with the weird fees that come from being not in the lower 48. Shipping is redonculous. The internet for our home is like paying for a cell phone plan with limits on gigabytes used. Most interesting was the charge from our cable company. We owed $789. The charges were for unreturned equipment and unreturned clients. Fernando and I wondered where we might have put that client so stealthily. Too bad we didn't think of sending a ransom note and then may be they would have been paying us. On the same vein of kidnapping or kid napping. Talia is going through that undesirable faze where she doesn't feel like she needs a nap, but desperately needs one. It is so sad how she falls asleep instantly while in her carseat around 3 when we pick up the kids but has to wake up for all the obvious reasons. The girl then can't fall asleep until 9 at night. Poor thing.

Monday, July 16, 2012

New Chapter--Graduation

June 7th marked the end of residency. It just so happened to also be the same day that the movers were packing up our home. Thankfully, my dad had come out to help me on our epic drive up to Utah so we could have the required adult there at the house at all times while the rest of us went to the graduation. The graduation was held in some building downtown San Antonio. In classic Tovar style, we slotted too much in with too little time. We raced downtown and dropped Fernando off with Mia near the entrance. I planned to park in our usual $2 place conveniently located a few blocks from downtown. Looking back I should have just forked out the $10 and saved us the hassle, but something in me just can't pay extra when I feel like we don't have to. The other kids were distraught that they didn't get to go in with Fernando and proceeded yelling and screaming which made me have a very difficult time navigating streets I never travel on which in turn made me miss my turn and put us on the freeway. We had only minutes before the thing started so it made me even more in capable of thinking. I finally looped around and found a spot. We jogged the whole 3 blocks over, dropping the keys out a few times and only once stopping for a cross walk. We found Mia waiting for us in the foyer and went in to what turned out to be the longest graduation in history. (or least it felt that way) I was then very grateful for the run with my two most restless kids.
We proudly watched Fernando pick up his diploma? and shake hands with special people we never saw before or will see again and then waited through a myriad of other specialities.
Did we bring anything to distract the kids? No. Thank heavens Tiago never leaves home without some little toy. (this time it happened to be some little Mario Bros characters which means the people sitting near us got to hear graduation proceedings to the tune of the mario theme song mixed with sound effects of blowing up things, Mario sayings, and stomping noises.) I had both of our i phones which was tricky splitting between 3 kids. Near the end, Tiago had finagled the boy next to him into letting him give running commentary on his iPad games of choice. Finally, after singing all three branches of service theme songs which was really kind of fun, we were done. Well, the kids and really Fernando and I were done probably before it started, but we left. As we were leaving, I felt the need to get the keys out. I am glad I did because I couldn't find them anywhere. Luckily, from picking them up several times on the run to the event, I knew that they could only be somewhere in the near vicinity. I asked the people in charge of clean up if they would keep an eye out for them. We looked on the floor near our seats, we looked everywhere we walked, we looked in the nearby hotels, and nothing. While searching, we bumped into some friends and neighbors who offered help, but really there was nothing to be done. My house was in chaos and I had no clue where the extra key would be. Everyone was off to special lunches in celebration and we had no extra car seats to send them home with people anyway. Here we are outside one of the Hotels we searched in vain for our car keys. Our friends kindly offered all sorts of help and to take our picture.
In the end, the only thing that could be done (and should have been done in the beginning) was to pray. So as a family, we gathered together and asked for help. We needed to find the keys to get home to the packers, get food in the kids, and get out of our too hot for Texas clothes. The prayer was short but sincere. Then, looking back one more time at our seats, I found the keys wedge between our seats. Tiago and I were the ones who found them and we instantly said a prayer of gratitude. Several prayers of thanks later, we walked to our car, keys in hand. And on back to our miraculous adventure called moving. poor quality due to iPhone video capacity while holding an infant and trying to walk in crouched position walking sideways

Monday, May 14, 2012

Breakfast In Bed

For mother's day, the kids made me breakfast in bed (which due to time restraints for making it to our 8:00 am choir practice before church at 8:30 meant we all ate quickly on the table downstairs. The kids have been getting a lot of breakfast in bed practice.
All three of these pictures were from different breakfasts brought to me in bed. I must say that I live a spoiled life. I often hear them up and making things and yet fall back to sleep until I hear the clanking of plates against the cookie sheet they use for a tray. So sweet.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cinco De Mayo

Although this was taken a couple months ago, I thought it fit the spirit of the day!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Loves of March

Tiago lost his two front teeth during a mad race between him and his brother. Joaquin (although unaware) tied with Tiago in teeth events. Joaquin grew two and Tiago lost two in the same week.
Tiago also got a violent throwing up bug which was kind of scary since he has really nothing on him to lose. He and I for that matter were kind of out of commission dealing with the bought of sickness. Mia, like usual, thought that the best thing to do was make a sweet card and breakfast in bed to help heal her brother. My heart melted at the sweet tenderness she showed him.
Joaquin has been ever the explorer. He loves chatting in the mirror with his identical friend (aka his own reflection). It is so funny to watch him and his reflection interact. It kind of reminds me of the fish in Nemo just not as psychotic.
Finally, our friends invited us to Pi day. We celebrated with them last year, but didn't memorize any of pi and brought really gross pie. This year, in attempts to at least make up for my bad pie, I tried cute little pie tartlets. The kids were totally grossed out about the crust that called for vinegar. I guess that the No Fail Pie Crust didn't make the cut.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Conference Weekend

For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, four days each year (two in April and two in October) are dedicated to a marathon of spiritual/insightful words and music. General Conference has always been a priority in our family, even when I was a little girl (and even more so with Fernando and his family who drove to their stake building and camped out all day to watch in church clothes).

Now as a mother of 4 kids, I have tried each year to make Conference a meaningful experience for everyone. When I woke up to the reality that 8 hours of tv time, no matter how spiritually uplifting, is just really long for kids. I tried packets and coloring pages to no avail. The best attendance we got was when we did Word Treats. We allowed the kids to pick several gospel terms and then affixed those terms on different treats and foods. We tried to limit the types of treats to healthy fruits and veggies and a few semi sugary wonders but in the end it felt like we were just constantly eating which felt gross after sitting and watching the tv for hours on end.

Then, last year while scouring the internet for ideas, I stumbled onto the best solution ever (at least for my kids) on sugardoodle.net by Janna Barnes. She had little presents for each member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and members of the First Presidency. I also loved her idea of having mini snickers for the kids to eat each time they heard someone laugh and little hugs candies for the times someone cried.

I have done this for two Conferences now with amazing results. For less then $15, we had kids excited for and ready to "listen" to General Conference. Now, I am not so naive to think that it was excitement solely for the messages that would be heard, but I hope that this same concept could be applied here

"6 months from now you will not remember how the cookie tasted, but you will see the result" Our translation, 6 years from now, you won't remember why you were excited for Conference but you will see the result of a habit of watching all sessions with fondness.

We have one session to go and the kids are still excited to listen!! By the time the kids figured out who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and match it with the gift, open the gift, and played with it for a few minutes it was time to move on to the next activity. No one got bored and I could listen while they hopefully listened and learned by osmosis.

Our tweaks that I found worked best for us:

The members of the Twelve got various dollar store wonders. Play dough, egg dying kit, water bottle drink mixes, those capsules that dissolve in water and become some animal, etc. The best find for us were 100 piece puzzles. They took about a talk and a half to finish and took everyone of the kids working together to do it.

Then for the General Authorities, we had bingo cards. Each time a kids got bingo, they could pick an easter egg out. Inside each easter egg was a treat and quantity. Some of the treats were raspberry lemonade, yogurt smoothy drinks, mandarin oranges, carrots with dip, graham crackers, mini nilla wafers, chocolate chips, etc

Friday, March 30, 2012

Kid History

Umm. . .I don't really know how to explain how our family has watched all of the kid history videos and quote them and laugh heartily at the retelling of family stories. Thanks Aunt Sulay for Guy on a Buffalo and now this:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Not Milk?

There are two possibly three things you should know in order to appreciate this post. First, my three year old is a typical inventive wonder who believes (as do I) that she can do anything she puts her mind to. Second, I have an abhorrence to wasting food. I feel strongly that those who have been blessed with abundance should share the wealth in whatever way possible and when you can't (in the case of food prepared at a given meal), be respectful of the blessing you've been given. Food should really only be thrown out when bad and even with that said, try to only make what you will consume. SOAPBOX Finally, I love whole milk. Adore it. I would love to drink it, but my genes and my doctor husband suggest else wise. I have slowly watered my milk taste down to 1% and feel pretty good about doing so.

With that understood or at least stated, I happened upon Talia a week ago busy at the kitchen sink. She was filling up measuring cups with water. I then glanced down at her cereal bowl to see what appeared to be a combination of milk, cereal, and water. I bit upset at the wasted food, I reprimanded Talia for playing with perfectly good food. She protested as I dumped the watery cereal and poured her another bowl. Almost as soon as I finished my lecture and poured milk into her bowl again I understood Talia's confused face. The wasted watery cereal was merely cereal drenched in Skim "Milk". I still feel like the cereal was a watery waste, but that's because as aforementioned I adore the pure cream of whole milk.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Zoo Day

Thank heavens people can help pull us out of ruts. I have been so concentrated on getting our home ready to sell that we have been homebound for weeks. Luckily my friend Wendy was good enough to invite us along. The weather this time of year is beautiful but can get warm. By hour number 3 the kids were whining for the beach area. Though they were ok when I agreed to let them feed the birds.

Then off to the beach. Joaquin was loving the rocks.

Or may be not!