The Mercado Family

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

It's Snow Fun!

We got majorly dumped on last week. We had a couple of inches of snow on the ground, then on Wednesday last week, we started hearing about this major snow storm coming.Victoria's teachers were talking about a snow day on Friday, Austin's teacher sent home their weekend Chrome books on Thursday, expecting it to be a snow day the next day. Everyone and their dog was at the grocery store on Thursday, including me, though I only wanted to get a couple of things and mail off the Valentines my kids made. As I left the store that day, the radio station was sounding the severe weather alert alarm in preparation for the big storm on Friday. By Thursday evening we got the email that school was cancelled. Everyone was thrilled!

The weather didn't disappoint. It started snowing early Friday morning, though not as early as I had thought, but early enough, and it just kept snowing. It snowed the entire day. After we received about 5 or 6 inches more, it stopped for the night, but then kept on snowing for part of Saturday. Another 2 inches fell, approximately. Sunday morning we had some freezing rain, so now we have huge amounts of snow with a nice layer of ice on top. It's quite interesting to walk in.
This was taken in the morning still.

This is the front yard later in the day. You can't see the little hill we formed from shoveling for our snow fort. All the whiteness is blinding here!

Friday morning angels.

Smoothing out our hill so we can make that tunnel. Hopefully we can do it tomorrow!

I didn't have to go in to work Friday morning, which Erik was sad about. He wanted to go into Red Bell. So we had preschool at our home. Jason saw about 8 other people in the huge building he works in. Only essential personnel had to go in. I guess he's essential!

Austin, helping Erik read.

Puzzle time!

We went sledding and Austin made a friend who let him use his snow board. Now Austin wants his own snow board. Luckily, I had gotten an old one from someone in the ward a couple of years ago. We tried it once, but it wouldn't slide, so we forgot about it. Saturday morning was busy and everything was taking a little longer with all the snow on the roads and our totally unreliable snow plowers around here, so I didn't have time to take the snowboard in to get serviced before trying it out on Saturday. I ended up just put a little car wax on and we went to the hill again Saturday afternoon and it worked like a charm! Austin loved it and did great, Victoria tried it and also did well, even I tried it! I have to say that snowboarding was fun! I don't think I would like it on a long stretch. I still prefer skiing, but on the sledding hill it was a nice change. I didn't get any pictures because my phone doesn't like the cold and has been shutting down when I'm in the cold too long, like when we were skiing, so I didn't even bring it out of the car. I guess I should try to remember my actual camera again.

Jason and I went out for Japanese on Saturday evening for our Valentines date and then we had a group of friends over that night for a game night. It was a fun tradition that I hope we can continue, now that our house is getting back in order after a few years of Project Basement.

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and I have to say that I love all my Valentines!

My mom sent my girls and I these dresses. We were excited to wear them Sunday.

For once Erik was sad that he couldn't be in a group pic (the one of the girls and I), so he wanted to get in his own with Jason. This is how he wanted it to be.

Never a dull moment!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


This year's Science Fair at Gallimore was changed to a STEAM Fair. STEAM is the new STEM. It stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and math. The students could choose any of those areas for their project, relating it to a typical science fair project. Karissa chose art, of course, and chose to relate it to her knowledge of volcanoes since we got to hike one, even if it was in the rain, in Costa Rica. 

She studied about volcanoes and came up with this trifold board.

She had the basics of how a volcano forms and erupts, as well as the plants and animals that are commonly found on volcanoes, since drawing animals is her forte. At the bottom, she included some pictures of Volcan Arenal in Costa Rica. One in the background of our hotel, one on our hike, and one at the trail head.

I volunteered to help set up the boards, which was the way to go. I was able to get a sneak peek at all the boards before the night of the event, which is always really crowded!

This is her last science fair at the elementary level!
Erik was trying to photo bomb, but didn't quite bomb it totally!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Motor City

We live 40  minutes from Detroit, the Motor City. The majority of the people in our ward work in the auto industry, most of them with Ford, like Jason.

The Detroit Auto Show is each year in January. It was the original one and people still travel from faraway places to come to ours here. Jason has been a few times and took Victoria one time a while ago. This year, we all went.

We had an early dinner beforehand to get there when everyone else would be leaving for dinner. Jason knows how to work the crowds! We went to Buddy's Pizza to get the original Detroit style pizza. It's deep dish, like Chicago's, but not as deep. I had planned on Erik not eating much, as usual, so I brought a bunch of snacks. Well, let's just say that we'll be going to Buddy's more often! He didn't eat pizza, of course, but he sure loved the bread sticks! Theirs is similar to Little Cesar's, but taste more fresh and are maybe twice as thick. Erik had four of them! Plus, at the restaurant they give dum-dum lollipops as you leave, so Erik (and the other kids) were super happy!

Since he ate so well, Erik was able to last the whole two hours we were at the auto show without having any meltdowns and I didn't have to give him any snacks! The kids loved checking out all the cars. Austin really wanted to see all the F150s, thought at the end of the night, both he and Erik said they loved every single car the most. Victoria loved the GT the most, and Karissa loved the VW Bug!

Big crowd around this Corvette.

Look out world, 2 1/2 more years!

Erik liked getting in this "tweety".

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Skiing in Michigan

Since we have lived in Michigan over 11 years now and haven't been out west during ski season for a while, I finally decided to try out skiing here. Actually, I've been thinking about it for a couple of years now, just finally had the right opportunity. My friend, who's in her 60's and is from Utah, but has lived in Michigan for about 30 years, is a skier. She goes to Utah every year for a ski trip. She raised all her boys here in Michigan though and taught them to ski here. She confirmed to me that it would still be a good experience for them here. 

When Karissa came home from school with a Discover Michigan in Winter form with a fantastic deal on it, I decided that we were going to do it!The deal was for a 2 hour lesson for $35 which included all the equipment for ages 7 and up. 9 and up could try snowboarding, so Austin couldn't try that yet. The girls decided to stick with skiing this time as well. Victoria went in Utah with me when she was really young and skied between my legs. She went in Colorado as well and had a little lesson, but I think she was 4 then, so it had been a while.

There are a ton of ski resorts here, though I didn't know. They are all old landfills. We signed up for the closest one to our house, only 45 minutes away!

As they started the lesson, I could see that they were getting the hang of it much faster than some of the other kids in the group, though most of them were about Austin's age. I also learned that, even though it stated the lesson would be for 2 hours, the lesson would only be one and that they could ski the rest of the day. Bonus! I promptly marched back into the building and bought myself a pass and rented some gear.

I didn't know what the lesson would be like, so I had brought warm stuff so I could ski, but I didn't necessarily plan on it in case I needed to be available during the lesson. It's a good thing I decided to ski, because although they had an hour's lesson on how to ski, they didn't get a lesson on how to get on a lift, or get off. When I got to ski with them, we had the typical first-time-getting-on-and-off-a-lift problems: taking too long to get to the right spot, getting lined up properly so we all could get on the 4-seater at the same time (we only did that once since Austin got run over by the lift on that one, though he was fine and it didn't even phase him), and getting off without falling. 

Victoria actually took the longest to get down the real slopes at first, after the practice slope. She kept losing a ski. Karissa surprised me by making it down the slopes without much fear. I can't say that I'm surprised by Austin's ability to zip down the slopes, even going off jumps and landing most of them. He was a natural and completely fearless, which is a little scary to me! As Karissa and I were going up the lift at one point, Austin was skiing straight down a fairly steep slope, doing a slight pizza, arms spread out with a big smile on his face! I overheard the teens in front of our lift exclaim, "Look how good that kid is!" and I yelled out to them that it was his first day and they were shocked! I would have taken a picture, but my phone had frozen and turned off by then. 

They were very tired at the end and Victoria had a bad moment where she thought she was lost, which put a bad ending to the whole day, since she was livid with me for "leaving" her. Of course she has forgotten all about that now and is dying to go again. We just might!
Victoria getting on her skis.

Karissa, getting the hang of it.

With the group.

Going to try out the practice slope. 

You can see one of the lifts in the background. There were 4. Not like skiing out west, but it was fun!

Victoria going down the practice slope.

Austin going down.

Here comes Karissa.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Once There Was a Snowman

Austin and I made a snowman last Monday. He taught me the proper way to roll and pack the snow. Being from California, I never have been very good at making snowmen because I never did it as a kid. Later that evening, while I was preparing dinner, one of my worst fears came to pass. I noticed that the diamond from my almost 19-year-old wedding ring, was missing.

Since I got it, 19 years ago, I have always been careful to check my ring and diamond and make sure everything looked secure and shiny. If it started to look dirty, I would clean it. I never did notice the prongs being loose, but if I ever knocked it on something, I took care to examine it. I never actually took it to a jeweler to have services done to it except for a few cleanings a long time ago, so I was quite surprised, discouraged, and very upset to find it missing.

I was hungry and knew that if I tried to look for it on an empty stomach, I wouldn't be very productive, especially since I didn't even know where I lost it! As I started eating, though, I didn't have much of an appetite anymore. It didn't help that we were eating leftover tacos. The night I made the tacos, a few days previous, I had chipped my fake tooth, which is right next to my front teeth. I was pretty upset about that when it happened, even though it's not very noticeable and I have had that tooth about 25 years. To top if off, Erik had sprained his thumb the morning of the same day I chipped my tooth. My mom was here for all these small tragedies and was very supportive, as was Jason, but I still felt like my new year was already falling apart.
Erik fell off the scooter in the church gym at playgroup. He wasn't even moving at the moment! 

They couldn't tell if it was broken in the x-ray at first, but we did get the confirmation that it wasn't.

The good thing about the bandage is that we would take it off after school to ice, but each day we did, it seemed to look worse!

After getting through my meal, I decided to look in my gloves, thinking maybe my diamond came off as I was putting them on and off while making the snowman and putting the facial features on it. No luck. I looked around the car, everyone else made rounds in the house, and I went outside with my flashlight to look around the snowman. Nothing.

The next morning I called the Summit. My mom and I had gone swimming in the afternoon on Monday. I knew it was a slim chance, but wanted to know if anyone had seen it in the bottom of the pool, or wherever, and actually turned it in. I also kept my eyes peeled at Red Bell on Tuesday.

When Jason returned from work Tuesday evening (my mom was at the airport by then) he asked if I had found it. When I shook my head dejectedly, he responded that I should call our insurance company (luckily we had insurance on the diamond specifically). 

On Wednesday, I asked my boss if any kid or the cleaners had found a nice shiny diamond lying around. Nope.  All the while, we all prayed that we could find the diamond. My kids were empathic and sweet. I found that by Wednesday I mostly prayed for their sake, so they wouldn't think I had given up. I can't say that I had actually given up, but that I didn't know what else to do. I prayed to Heavenly Father that I knew He would allow us to find it, if it be His will, but also that I knew it was a hard thing to find. He did answer me, because all the while I felt something tell me that it wasn't far. The problem I had was, how long was it going to take to find this diamond that was so close, yet so far away?

Thursday we had some wacky weather. All few inches of snow we had on the ground, melted with the 50 degree weather and rain that we had that day. By the time I got home from Red Bell at 1:00, there was no snow at all, except for snow that had been compacted.

As I drove into the cul-de-sac that day, I noticed that our white gate was open, which is unusual. I walked over to check it out and close it. As I walked back across the yard, I felt like I should skim the area where the snowman had been. The bottom of it was a small ball and in front of it was a small pile that had been the middle and top. I leaned forward to see if it happened to be there and as I looked, I saw a shiny piece of ice that looked slightly pear-shaped. My heart started to pound as I reached froward to examine it, thinking it couldn't be it; it looked so much smaller than it did set in the ring. When I picked it up, there was no mistaking it! I had found my diamond in the melted snowman!
Snow pile where I found my diamond.

Thank goodness for a pear shaped diamond- it's different!

One of the amazing things about this miracle is that it had to happen at that moment, when the snow was melted and my kids weren't home. The very next day, we got a fresh layer of snow that would have made it difficult to see that diamond and at the end of winter, it might have been ground into the grass.

I know Heavenly Father heard our prayers and comforted me during those few days. He gave our family a wonderful miracle!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Percy Potter Party

Karissa had been planning her birthday party for months, as is typical of her. A lot of her friends, including her friends in the Unicats group, like the Percy Jackson series and/or the Harry Potter series, a lot. Karissa leans somewhat towards Percy Jackson, but she wanted to have a party that combined the two worlds, so that's what we did! Luckily, we didn't pay too much attention to detail, because in the end, they all just wanted to be together since it was the last Saturday of winter break and they hadn't seen much of each other.

We made wands ahead of time and let them choose one before Karissa sorted them into houses with the "sorting hat", for a Harry Potter touch. They then participated in an obstacle course that the boys helped with, for a Percy Jackson experience. Victoria made a snitch out of a bell and had them find it, instead of a game of quidditch, from Harry Potter. We ate a "feast" complete with baked potatoes, chili, hot dogs, veggies, cheddar pretzels, "pumpkin juice", and jelly beans (every flavor beans). The cake was a chocolate ice cream cake that Karissa referred to as ambrosia (from Percy Jackson). With the cake I served butter beer. After presents, they watched the 3rd movie from the Harry Potter series. There was some dancing in between some of the activities and usual 11-year-old conversation.
Olivia came a little early to help set up. She and Karissa frosted the cake.

Erik, sporting the wand we made him, along with his new injury, more about that later, and blanket that Grandma Pat made him.

Sorting hat time!

Our group of Unicats and friends! (Victoria had an unusually calm moment).

Erik, spinning for his part of the obstacle course. They weren't supposed to let him touch them as they went by.

Going through the "wind cave" that Austin was in charge of.

Victoria, leading the snitch search.

Austin's team found the snitch.

Now I have a break from birthday parties for 5 months- phew!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

11 Years

Karissa had her 11th birthday on Saturday and we celebrated with a bang! My mom and Jim are here, so we had planned to go to the movies with them to see Wonder anyhow, why not on the birthday? We also wanted to go to PF Chang's to get a bunch of flight miles with our credit card before the end of the year, so we used her birthday for an excuse for that as well. We all felt really special going to the movies and right to dinner at a nice restaurant! Karissa enjoyed those activities and working on the crafts she got as gifts (kinetic sand, making slime, coloring, and helping with her own cake and frosting the cake). That's her kind of stuff.
Very excited for her slime gift! (Thanks, Aunt Karina!)

Kinetic Sand

Kinetic Sand Cake
PF Chang's (Erik slipped out just in time to not be in the pic)

...but, we were able to get him eating his noodles!! 

The cake had the best chocolate frosting I have ever made!
Victoria had a little too much chocolate frosting, apparantly, Grandpa did too!

 We had just returned from a trip to Chicago to use up our passes to the Museum of Science and Industry the day before, which a a fast, but exciting road trip!
Getting our free hot chocoalte with our membership perks.

Mirror maze, the coolest!!!

Steering the ship.

This ship from Norway is called the Jason!

Michigan race car

Clowning around

Farming the land.

My camera just missed the video Austin was watching about fertilization in the genetics section.

Karissa is really maturing. What she doesn't have in size, she makes up for with her heart and mind. Her teacher is preparing the class for middle school and encouraging them to be independent in all their responsibilities, which is very helpful for me! She is improving at the piano, loves school and most of the subjects in school, and we're looking into tumbling classes to prepare her for the next cheer season. She loves to read, do crafts (especially if it has to do with slime), getting craft ideas from YouTube, playing Minecraft with her siblings, science, and anything to do with nature. She has started a club with her friends called the Unicats Club. They're great friends!

We love our Karissa. Happy birthday!!