13 August 2018

Cried a Little, But Would Return

Kate is FINALLY able to go to school with her sisters!
Ever since Kate has been aware of school--what it is and that her older sisters got to go and that she didn't--she has been impatiently waiting for her time to join the ranks of school children. On the cusp of starting kindergarten a few months back, we went to school to watch Evelyn in a spelling bee and halfway through, Kate started weeping and didn't stop for about forty-five minutes. Why? Because she wanted to go to school right that instant. When she finally calmed down enough for me to explain she'd be joining her sisters in a few months, I also reminded her that she should enjoy her time at home. Being a carefree child doesn't last long!
The milkman.
Sunday, we made sure everyone had their backpacks hung up, clothes laid out, shoes found, and sandwich bread made, we sent everyone off to bed and told them not to wake up early or they'd be too tired for school.

Henry didn't get the memo.

He walked in with his usual grin before the sun came up. Knowing him well enough that he wasn't going to go back to bed without some crying, which would wake up everyone else, I rolled out of bed and had Henry come with me to milk Dolly. Good thing he could live happily in the barn and is actually quite helpful when he feels like listening. We got enough milk to last us the next few days, then went in to get everyone dressed, fed, and sent with a lunch.
Taking Kate to class.
One of the things I love when watching the kids is that when they sense someone else is nervous, they cluster together and offer support. Kate was practically buzzing with excitement but at the same time, shaking in her boots. So, her older sisters took control of the situation. Claire marched up to the teachers and announced that it was Kate's first day while Evelyn held her hand and led her to her classroom. I appreciate that they have such big hearts and look out for one another!
Jack being assaulted by a lion cub who didn't want him to leave.
Then, without much fanfare, the rest of us went home, did our morning chores, exercised, tidied a bit, folded laundry, watched a show, napped, and sent Jack off on another work trip. The time, like every day, sped by. The difference was how quiet it all was. Sure, Henry and Zoey can make quite the ruckus but when you're down three kids, the reduction in noise is impressive and almost unnerving.
Kate patiently teaching Henry to ride her bike.
I've been saying for a while that I think I was particularly emotional about Kate going off to school. Not that a piece of my heart didn't stay with Evelyn, and then Claire when they went off to elementary, but for Evelyn, I put on a brave face for her sake and Claire was so ready, she never even looked back. With Kate, it's like my right hand is missing. She's such a little mother and is great with Henry and Zoey and helping when I ask for it. That and now, over half my children are in school. It's an interesting conundrum to be happy my kids are learning and making friends and growing without me but at the same time, missing them terribly.
But, as predicted, everyone survived. Basically.
Tears were very expected.
They jumped off the bus with as much enthusiasm as when they were dropped off and were practically mauled by their younger siblings, who were so happy to see their missing sisters.
There is no rest for big sisters.
Evelyn and Claire are old pros but Kate did admit to crying or near-crying on a few occasions, which isn't really a surprise (again, the spelling bee instance). Crying is her coping mechanism for when she's stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated, overjoyed, angry, tired, when she can't find the right color of crayon, when she's hurt, when she's hungry, tired of cleaning, or embarrassed. When I asked if she'd go back, she gave a thumbs up and said she would return.
Kindergarten is a-okay!
Here's to another successful start to the school year! 

12 August 2018

Pumpkin Bars

 For Sunday dinner, I decided to roast a turkey we've had in the freezer that was on sale after last year's Thanksgiving. So, we sort of had a dry run of a Thanksgiving meal, with easier sides and pumpkin bars instead of pumpkin pie. Talk about a yummy, easy pumpkin dessert...maybe it'll be making another appearance in November!

Ingredients:
Pumpkin Bars
4 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 can (15oz) can pumpkin
2 cups flour
2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 13x9 inch jelly roll pan. Set aside. In a bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin.  In a separate bowl, sift together remaining ingredients, then add to the pumpkin mixture. When well-combined, pour into the jelly roll pan and put in the oven for 25 to 30 mins, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool complete before frosting.

Cream Cheese Icing
1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound powdered sugar

Beat together cream cheese and butter. Add in vanilla and powdered sugar until smooth. Frost over sheet cake when completely cool.
Enjoy! 

11 August 2018

Summer Smiles

Sums us up pretty well.
One of our recurring goals is to have professional family portraits once a year and for the past few years, we've met that goal. Since fall is my favorite time of the year for the weather and fantastic tree colors in Indiana, we've always done them in October or November. But, this year we switched it up and had a summer photo session, in part to enjoy photos while we weren't absolutely freezing and because the twin cousins were visiting.
Smile, Zoey!
 We were up early to be able to catch the fantastic lighting but we told the kids all week that we were going to have pictures taken, so at least for a few minutes after we'd woken them up, gotten them dressed, and sent them outside, they were excited about it before they realized they were, in fact, tired and hungry.
One of the other challenges is that I didn't put two and two together to figure out a couple of the children were on the cusp of being ill, which accounted for some of their unusual slowness that morning. Still, they smiled.
And smiled.
And smiled.
Early morning summer smiles.
Though the horses missed out on their photo shoot this time, the cats are pretty arrogant about photobombing.
It wasn't so bad though. It perfectly captures Claire's love of felines, which made for some awfully adorable pictures.
Snickers and Kate, both pretty girls.
After all the kids and their cousins had their individual photos, we headed around to the other side of the pond for some different scenery.
Twin cousins are the best!
 But, there's always time to stop and smell the flowers.
The cousins took photos all together, which was a miracle in itself, to get all the kids looking and with a semi-smile on their face was all I could ask for.
Then, each family had some pictures that captured everyone's personalities perfectly.
And, a few couples shots.
Of course, when it comes to kissing photos, I can barely keep a straight face. I'm not one for PDA in general, so when it's something to be captured on film, I can't stop giggling, especially when Jack is egging me on.
This reminds me a lot of one our engagement photos...
 So, Jack suggested a different tactic and we took to the water...
...and made out there, instead.

I must say, it is a rather artistic shot. Cover of a sweet romance novel, anyone?
My favorite shots though are the candid ones Charley sneaks when no one's looking. They really capture those special moments that would otherwise seem unimportant.
And hats off to Charley for being able to work through the chaos and find everyone's smiles.
Including those hard-to-please toddlers.
Thank you Charley from Imzadi Studios for another special round of family photos! 


07 August 2018

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

Every Sunday, I usually scramble to figure out what to make for dinner. Even though it's a day of rest, for some reason, people still want to eat. Jack will occasionally fill in or we'll have leftovers if there's enough but this past week, Jack was busy and my fridge was rather barren. So, I tossed together this quick pasta salad, paired it with some sliced fruit and leftover rotisserie chicken and we were set! It's as quick as boiling the pasta but can be made ahead of time to ensure it's thoroughly cooled (I actually prefer mine a little warm). Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup yogurt
1 package dry Ranch seasoning
1 box shell pasta
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
4 strips bacon

Boil pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, cook bacon until crispy. Set aside. In a small bowl combine mayo, yogurt, and Ranch seasoning. A minute before the pasta is finished, add the frozen peas. Drain and dump in a large bowl. Add celery, onions, and bacon crumbles. Toss together. Pour dressing over the top and stir until everything is well-coated. Place bowl in fridge to chill, or until ready to serve.
Enjoy!

06 August 2018

Braider

We call this the Trifecta Braid.
If there's one thing I'm really not good at, it's doing hair. I can't curl or style or fix or braid hardly at all (unless we're talking about braiding Stoney's hair for a show. Then I'm not so terrible). Half the time, if I do try to fix anyone's hair, it looks mediocre at best. Then, the other half of the time, my girls get into a wrestling match and mess up their hair, which reinforces my lack of desire to fix hair in the first place.
That's right...burrs in Kate's hair. Oops.
Before my daughters lopped off all their beautiful hair to donate, I decided to try and become at least a little better at braiding. It kept their hair from getting too tangled and kept it out of their face. Plus, if I did a decent job, they were impressed enough to try and be a little more careful when romping and playing, so at the end of the day, it looked semi-okay.
I started off with the French braid...
...then a braided twist...
 ...the dragon braid (which doesn't look anything like the tutorial, but was still cute)...
 ...the woven criss-cross pigtails...
 ...the half-ponytail french braid...
 ...the rocker-chick half French braid...
 ...the full double French braid...
 ...the out-and-around braid...
 ...and one of my favorites, the fishtail.
Mostly, they're all variations of a couple different braids. As their hair grows out again, maybe I'll branch out into other, more challenging braids. That is, if I can ever master the very basic ones. And, because I'm not that fantastic of a braider, there's no way I could ever do it on my own hair. Solution? Let the girls "braid" my hair for me (mostly, they just tangle it up, stick a couple bows in it, and call it good). I'm all fancy and ready to go!
So, while no one is going to be calling me to do their wedding party's hair or anything anytime soon, I gave it an honest effort. With four girls and their prolific hair, I'm sure someday, I'll be a master braider.


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