31 March 2016

C'mon In, Stoney

Petting Stoney on the way out to swing.
Part of Stoney's job is to keep the grass grazed down, so I don't have to do so much of the mowing. Once in a while, I put him in the backyard where he nibbles around the garden boxes and the fenceline when he's finished with the center of the yard.
C'mon in, Stoney!
That means when the girls go out back to play, they're met with a friendly face who's more than willing to come inside.
"You have any more?"
I hope the girls appreciate that they're living my childhood fantasy...

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30 March 2016

Spring Is In The Air!

Our very first peach blossoms!
Spring is in the air! The flowers are blooming...
Stoney is shedding profusely, a sure sign of spring.
 ...the horses are shedding like crazy...
...the bees are coming out of hibernation...
...and the hens have started playing their own version of an egg hunt.

(Seriously girls, could you get any lazier?! The nesting box is ten feet away!)

Happy Spring!

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28 March 2016

Henry's Turn

Everyone's enjoying the warmer weather and longer days and now that my leg has healed, I'm back to running on the road. This time, it was Henry's turn to go with me.
He looked around for about two minutes before falling asleep from the rocking motion and snuggled all nice and warm in his blanket. When we got home and I had to wake him up to take him inside, he gave me a sleepy-eyed smirk...obviously, running in the stroller was enjoyable. For him. I'm still getting to that point.
Since it was already a day of firsts, we also introduced him to the bounce house that we have rolled out in the great room.
Sooooo fun!
I thought it might be a little overwhelming as the girls and Jack engaged in a bouncy house pillow fight (Kate's turn to pick activity for family night!), but the instant we were inside, he was all smiles and hearty laughter.

Many important--and very exciting--firsts for Henry today!


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27 March 2016

Hallelujah

We were blessed with a beautiful Easter Sunday and we celebrated with our typical family traditions: finding our Easter baskets, dying eggs and an egg hunt, a picture among the small white flowers that seem to always bloom the day of, family dinner and of course, attending church.
There is so much that we enjoy about Easter--we are always grateful for the end of winter and the promise of warmer weather and all of us enjoy what the Easter bunny brings, but Easter is much more than candy and fun. We're blessed to be reminded of our Savior and His atonement, which not only brings the promise of resurrection, but that frees us from sin, sorrow, guilt, pain and affliction and all other griefs, sicknesses and sadness that may afflict us. He is an advocate, redeemer, and perhaps most important, friend.

Hope your Easter Sunday was peaceful, joyful and celebrated with family and friends.

Happy Easter!

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21 March 2016

Two Things

 Every boy should have two things:
A dog and a mother willing to let him have one.

(That goes for the girls too. And luckily, I'm willing!)

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17 March 2016

Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole

So easy!
I wasn't in the mood to cook but our fridge was looking pretty bare, so leftovers were out. I found this recipe and am in love--and so are the kids. Win!

Ingredients:

1 package (about 16 oz) uncooked rotini pasta
1 jar (about 25 oz) spaghetti sauce
3 cups water
1 package (14 oz) fully thawed/cooked meatballs
2 cups shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 425F. In a large baking dish, stir together uncooked pasta, sauce, water and meatballs. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and stir. Sprinkle mozzarella over the top and bake uncovered another 10 minutes (or until cheese is melted and pasta is tender).
Enjoy!
Thanks to The Seasoned Mom for the recipe inspiration!

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13 March 2016

Indy Author Fair

Getting set up!
I don't like to do things outside of my comfort zone, but I try to do them anyway, because they're usually good for me. Like attending author fairs and book signings.
Setting up with my friend, Jennifer.
It's not that I don't like seeing what other authors have been up to, it's that I'm horrible at pitching my books, my inner introvert makes me want to escape to the nearest cave and the thought of meeting new people admittedly makes me nervous. Thankfully, there were a few friends who came for a visit and my table was set right next to a friend who worked on the Indianapolis Temple Cultural Celebration with me and who is also an author.
A few weeks ago, I talked myself into signing up to attend an author fair in Indy (at 11:50pm before a midnight deadline--how's THAT for procrastinating!) and last Saturday, the day came. It was held at a local public library and the room was packed with authors from all sorts of genres and from several different states and we had lots and lots of patrons come visit. Time flew by as I forced myself to step outside of my comfort zone and chatted with tons of enthusiastic book readers, several who were fellow horse lovers. All in all, I was pleased with my book sales and the new readers I met.
Everyone gearing up for the event!
If I'm truly honest with myself, I will admit I'm already looking forward to the next book signing/author fair, which, lucky me, is coming late September!


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11 March 2016

Embrace the Mud

Embrace the mud.
I strongly dislike Indiana mud.
While I'm busy fretting and being frustrated about the mud, Claire has embraced it for all it's squishy, lumpy dirtiness. And now, she's recruited Kate.
Muddy freckles.
While waiting for Evelyn to be dropped off by the school bus, I was feeding the animals. One minute, they were playing with the cats, the next, they had stripped off their shoes and socks and were slathering on the mud.
It had to be in their new clothes...oh, well. Thank goodness for washing machines!
I should really learn to embrace things like the girls do.

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09 March 2016

Made Room

The girls have made room for Henry on the swings!

If his enjoyment in the hammock were any indication, it's no surprise he loves swinging too!

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06 March 2016

Glories of Creation

Thomas S. Monson said, "God left the world unfinished for man to work his skill upon. He left the electricity in the cloud, the oil in the earth. He left the rivers unbridged and the forests unfelled and the cities unbuilt. God gives to man the challenge of raw materials, not the ease of finished things. He leaves the pictures unpainted and the music unsung and the problems unsolved, that man might know the joys and glories of creation."

Well, that explains a lot about why we do some of the things we do.

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05 March 2016

Boil, Boil, Boil

Licking out the bowls after we have a finished product.
I confess, I'm not a fan of winter, or at least the end of it. It's been cold, dreary and grey a little too long for my liking and by the time it does start to thaw, the mud is incredibly obnoxious. There is a silver lining though and that's maple syrup season.
Look at the sap flow!
This year, we were a little more prepared to collect sap. I saved milk jugs and Jack had marked all the usable maple trees before the leaves fell off so we'd know which trees to tap. Then, towards the end of February, when the nights dipped below freezing but the days were warmer and above freezing, we put the taps in the trees and waited for the sap to flow.
Henry "helping" collect sap.
Usually once a day, we head outside, right before Evelyn is dropped off by the school bus, and we drag a big bucket around to collect the sap. It comes out clear, slightly sweet and on good days, it's quite abundant. We aren't the only ones who enjoy it either--plenty of ants and bugs congregate around the tap site to get a taste. As long as they don't fall in what we're taking with us, we're fine with sharing.
Boil, boil, boil.
Once we've drug the gallons and gallons of sap inside, it's a matter of filtering, boiling, then filtering and boiling again, until the sap is reduced to a rich amber color and has a characteristic maple-y taste. The process isn't hard, but it requires periodic supervision--we were reminded the hard way when Jack tested boiling it on a turkey fryer powered by propane. We forgot about it and it burned to a black crisp. Oops. So, we're back to boiling it inside on the stove, which makes our house as hot and humid as the Amazon rainforest. But, when it's cold outside, no one complains.
Mmm...Claire likes it straight from the tree.
It never ceases to amaze me how much abundance the earth has to offer--we've already made over a gallon of syrup and have shared quite a bit of it, and the sap is still flowing. I'm excited for spring, but fresh maple syrup on pancakes or waffles makes enduring the last bit of winter doable and a bit more sweet.

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03 March 2016

Momcation

Driving the winding cowpaths of Indiana's back roads.
Every mother needs to get away once in a while for a momcation. While most go to the spa, go on shopping sprees and if they're really lucky, go on cruises to exotic destinations with a bunch of mom-friends, I don't like being away too long and with our little homestead to run, I have to be a little more practical.

I went to pick up hay.
One last chore with our trusty truck before we sold it and got a commuter car for Jack.
The time alone in the car was spent listening what whatever music I wanted without complaint, enjoying the country scenery, thinking about my amazing children and wonderful husband, reminiscing about my awesome life, trying to listen to some election information, saying a few prayers--some that the round bales wouldn't fall off or that I wouldn't lose my toes and fingers to frostbite on the coldest day of the year with no heat in the truck and some that were a little more profound. By the time I got back, I was ready to be integrated back into the family.

Just the kind of momcation I needed.

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