30 June 2016

Double Up

When one of our swings broke, the girls got into a few squabbles until I showed them that they could double up.
Turns out, sharing is fun!

(Why doesn't anyone believe me every other time I tell them that??)

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28 June 2016

Asleep

Evelyn snoozing in the cool shade.
As much as they say they don't like sleeping, the kids sure fall asleep in a lot of random places. Under trees...
Pink Vader had a busy day.
...at lunch...
...or on the bean bag chair.
Henry still takes the cake. He'll fall asleep while jogging...
...while driving...
I will never understand how babies don't constantly have cricks in their necks.
...in the high chair...
...on my lap...
...and with all the places he's managed to sleep, he still miraculously enjoys sleeping in his crib.
All snugly warm during the winter.
It's hard being a kid.
And a kitten.

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25 June 2016

Belated Father's Day

Sharing a silly straw invention!
Though Father's Day was nearly a week ago and we didn't pay homage to Jack and fathers at large on the blog, we spent plenty of time spoiling Jack with presents, homemade crafts and special meals in person.
Showering daddy with homemade artwork.
Though I could go on and on about Jack's wonderful qualities, I think everyone knows how creative, intelligent, good-natured, hardworking, faithful, witty, humorous, patient, gentle and kind he is, and how hard he works to protect and provide for our growing family. Oh. And handsome.

Soooo handsome.
Teaching Henry to cook already.
Oops! I can't help myself. What can I say? Jack is awesome.
Even though an ox fell in the mire and an unexpected rainstorm threatened our bare roof (more on that later) and we spent a chunk of h Jack's special Sunday working to cover it with tarps, Jack is never one to complain. He has the uncanny ability to turn chores that are unpleasant into something memorable and enjoyable, or at the very least, tolerable.

Unless it's changing diapers.

He'd be a happy man if he never had to change another diaper, but hey, I can't be the one having all the fun.
You can't leave chocolate in plain sight of children and expect a restful nap.
Of all the qualities I adore about Jack, his fearlessness has to top the list. He has never shirked nor shrunk away from his role and duty as husband and father and in turn, he esteems and respects my part as wife and mother. He creates a safe, happy home and fulfilling life for his son and daughters with everything he does and he brings honor to his own father and all the other men who have shaped him into who he is, but most importantly, seeks to serve, love and appreciate his Heavenly Father. That, in a nutshell, is what we're celebrating on Father's Day.

Every day, we're grateful for fathers.
Happy (belated) Father's Day to all you wonderful men!

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17 June 2016

Empowered

I put up all those balusters!
Recently, I've felt very empowered.
I put in that flooring tread, into a CONCRETE floor!
It's amazing how much changing a little outlet can improve and entire room!
I learned how to replace outlets!
It was a surprisingly easy fix!
I doubled the number of balusters on our staircase, so the railing doesn't leak kids!
Maybe I don't want to feel empowered...
Now that I've mastered some new home improvement skills, I feel empowered enough to tackle the roof!

(Which I'll do, just as soon as I can give myself a convincing enough pep talk to climb off the ladder and actually get onto the roof...)

Wish me luck! ;)

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15 June 2016

Fluffy Fruit Dip

A friend served this at her daughter's birthday party and I instantly fell in love. It's light and fluffy and not as sweet as our cream cheese fruit dip. The best part is it can be put together in about two minutes, can be customized and is delicious with every fruit we tried. Even though it was a side dish, it could practically be a meal. Half a recipe is plenty for a family, a whole batch is party sized.

Ingredients:

1 large container Cool Whip, thawed
1 large container yogurt--try strawberry, blueberry, strawberry banana, vanilla, etc
1 small package instant vanilla pudding (feel free to try other fruity flavors too!)

Whip together the yogurt and pudding until smooth. Fold in cool whip and chill until ready to serve!
Enjoy!

Thanks for the recipe inspiration, Carla!

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14 June 2016

Fun Run

I see some familiar faces at the start of the race!
When we went back to Nebraska over Memorial Day weekend, we decided to sign the girls and their cousins up for a mile fun run race early on a Saturday morning.
I was a little concerned that the girls would struggle with the run (well, except Kate and Elsa, who did it right by cruising along in the double jogging stroller), but everyone ran like the wind. I think it was a combination of the cool weather, the excitement of the race and having their cousins running with them.
Kaylee and Claire in front, whooping us all.
Everyone finished the mile course in less than twelve minutes, which, when you think of it, is pretty fast, especially for the lengths of their legs. It's especially impressive for Claire and Kaylee, who probably ran about five miles total because they kept zig-zagging back and forth out of excitement the entire course.
Distracted by a giant woolly mammoth.
We stuck around for a while afterward to play some games, visit with some former neighbors from our childhood and happily, everyone won a prize from the raffle. Fun!
Guess I'd better sign up everyone to do a half marathon with me next.


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07 June 2016

Snickerdoodle Bars

While I'm well aware that Jack loves snickerdoodle cookies, I'm not a super huge fan of them, because they seem to take more effort than your average chocolate chip cookie (I think it's the extra steps of rolling them, then dipping them in cinnamon sugar). There is a solution--Snickerdoodle Bars! They're just as sweet and chewy, but are really simple and will please a crowd!

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups flour

Topping:

1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350F and spritz a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Cream together the butter and sugars. Add the eggs and vanilla and incorporate. Add the remaining dry ingredients, then press into the baking pan. Combine the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until set and lightly golden. Cool completely before cutting.
Enjoy!

Thanks to Baked by Rachel (not me, a different Rachel) for the recipe inspiration!

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05 June 2016

Grandma's Surprise Party

At Grandma's Surprise Party!
A few months ago, I was looking through the calendar and getting a few of the major events planned out for the year. Surprise, surprise, my mother's 60th birthday (don't anyone tell her I told you how old she is) fell on a Friday, on a three day weekend AND she was already going to be off work from a previous shoulder surgery. It was a rare, magical combination for sure! So, I thought really, really hard about what incredible gift we could send and after mulling it over for a while, I decided to gift us!
We got to see some COUSINS!!!
Honestly, I'm surprised that my mom didn't pick up on the secret plans my family had for her. I kept telling the girls to keep it a secret from Grandma, but they dropped obvious hints every five seconds like they were hot potatoes. Henry was the only one who could seem to keep his mouth shut.
So, we got the house all clean (because I like coming home to a spic-and-span house so I can recuperate from traveling for a few days by not having to do any housework), left Raven with one of her doggie friends, loaded the chickens up on food, made sure the cats were set and let the horses out on the lush back pasture. The animals are never really sad when I tell them we're going on vacation.
Happy birthday, Mom! Here are some rocks for you.
Once we loaded the car, including the birthday rocks--yes, I gave my mom rocks for her birthday--we jumped in and before we pulled out of the driveway, all noticed a horrible grinding noise the car suddenly started making, having never made it before. Joy!
Thank goodness for nice mechanics. We stopped by a guy who'd already saved me once before when I locked my keys in the truck while at the post office and he made his best guess about the problem, Jerry-rigged the car and sent us on our way. With a prayer and cautious driving, we made it halfway to Nebraska, where we stopped at a hotel for the night. We left early the next morning, having gorged ourselves on pancakes at the restaurant next to the hotel and made it to Nebraska by lunchtime.
Claire is a GREAT little traveler.
Jack, ever the mischievous little boy, wanted to park the car around the corner and covertly sneak up to the door. I disagreed and plowed the car into the driveway--by the end of a ten hour drive, I just want it to be DONE, though I was a good sport and did hide with everyone else when we obnoxiously rang the doorbell. And boy, oh boy! Was Grandma surprised!
We enjoyed her special day at home for a few hours, before taking her to a secret location (the park across the street--SUPER secret, I know) where we'd invited lots of friends and family to celebrate. Other than starting the festivities a tad late (Oops!), lots of those family and friends came to visit and we were able to see old church friends, painting buddies, cousins, longtime family friends, band friends, work friends, school friends, vet friends, horse friends...it was a good time!
Making my pregnant sister, Jenny, do all the work.
So, I'm not sure what we'll do for her 61st birthday next year (shh...I didn't tell you again how old she'll be), but we'll have to think of something.
Cousin fun!
Maybe a longer trip and more rocks.

Happy 60th, Mom!!!
(Oops. I did it. Again.)

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