Wednesday, May 29, 2013

May 19-25

 My little hug-a-bug.  Owen is definitely the most touchy-feely of all the kids and still loves to snuggle up.  Which is good because then I don't miss having a baby around quite so much . . . ;o)
Reading time with Rissy. 
 So, my mommy-heart was totally unprepared for the adorableness that is little boys in their baseball uniforms.  Jackson is just eating this experience up. Emmett . . .  well, let's just say if you run into my husband ask him to tell you the story about Emmett having to be carried off the field by his coach.  It's a good one and Josh tells it oh-so-much better. And everyone who hears it says, "Payback." ;o)
 A wee little car mechanic.
 Oil change assistance. Owen just loves to shadow everything Daddy does.
 Visiting my brother's orphaned calf "Wallace." (My dad accidentally sold the mama, so Louie took him in and bottle-fed him).  I love Isabella's quiet gentleness--she just has a way of approaching animals that keeps them calm.  And then there's Emmett . . . a stampeder he is!
Owen wants no part of me doing his hair.  He combs it flat down his forehead--it is quite the look!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

May 12-18

 Mother's Day--I am one blessed mama (not to mention look at all that eye contact and simultaneous smiling for the picture--we've come along way!). ;o)
 There are certain moments in my life where I do miss having the "stereo" effect that two hearing ears would give me--and this was one of those times.  I had heard a strange tapping sound that I couldn't quite place--it was unfamiliar and foreign. I asked a few of the kids if they knew what it was or where it was coming from, but nobody seemed to be honing in on it like I was. A few minutes later when Emmett came into the house sobbing that he "accidentally" broke the screen door window with a rock I figured out what the sound I had heard was. I opened the the front door and the whole window just fell out in a million pieces like a lovely little glass waterfall.  Upon further inspection I counted eight nice-sized rocks on my front step.  I asked Emmett how many rocks he threw, "One . . . or maybe eight . . ." he tells me.  I guess there was a wasp on the window and he was trying to "get it."  
 We were given an old pool and seeing as this day reached over 100 degrees the kids thought we should fill it up.  This was about as far as we got.  Don't you just love the littlest guys terrorizing all the big kids with the hose? ;o)
 These fierce looking fellows arrived by ship.
Why I will never win the coolest parent award at my house.
How can you compete with a dad who brings you home dry ice to play with?
Answer--you can't. 
 Although Josh does have to go back on Monday for a teacher work day we decided to have a "Summer is here!!" kick-off on Friday night, complete with a nacho bar and root beer floats.  Bring on the summer time fun! ;o)
A little boy in his jammies holding a kitten (if I were on twitter and cool and used hashtags I would call this #killingyouwithcuteness . . . but you know, I'm not all that cool). ;o)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Favorite Things (on a Friday)

It's been awhile since I did a "these are a few of my favorite things" kind of post, but here are a few things that have found their way into my home over the last months that have delighted me . . .

I had a few Amazon gift cards to use (Swagbucks and I are still going strong!) and bought myself a little Mother's Day gift in book form:

I am in love with this cookbook--devoted entirely to delicious baked goods! So far I have only made the "Lovely Lemon Loaf," a lemon bread that is soaked in lemon simple syrup and then drizzled in lemon glaze, but it was awesome.

 I see the Coconut Creme Pie making an appearance this weekend.  After reading it through I don't see how any of the recipes can be bad.  I also love the little baking hints at the beginning.  I know you are supposed to start with room temperature ingredients but I'm always in a rush--after reading their explanation I find myself being more intentional.  The kids and I have great plans to try a recipe every week this summer.  
This new bread pan--

I had been admiring similar ones in the King Arthur Flour catalog, and then found these for a bit cheaper (and no shipping) on Amazon.  Reviews said they are just like the King Arthur ones.  You have to hand-wash but they are AWESOME as far as "non-stick" goes.  I'm planning on getting a few more (and I'm eyeing other bake wear from this brand).  
This tea--
Okay, so I know the last time I mentioned tea I was going strong on my Bigelow "Vanilla Caramel" kick.  Then this tea entered the picture.  At first I was like "Yikes, that is strong!" But by the 2nd cup I think I was in love.  Reviews say it is a true English tea.  Having never been to England I can't vouch for that, but I must say after having it no other tea quite seems to measure up.  It is described as having a "maltiness" to it.  I had my mother-in-law try it and now she is ordering her tea from Amazon as well.  It is good stuff.  So, now it is on "Subscribe and Save" and being delivered to my home bi-monthly.  
And while we are on the topic--"Subscribe and Save" I love you!!!
We have slowly added more items to our Subscribe and Save shipment . . . toilet paper, cat food, tea, feminine products, dryer sheets, vanilla . . . Once you get five items in a shipment you save 20% off your entire order.  These things are already cheaper than the grocery store, and then with the extra 20% they are crazy cheap!  And we will never run out of toilet paper again!  I wish I had known about this when I had a house full of "littles"--it would have saved many a trip to the store for things we were low on.  Check it out if you haven't already!
This sweet book--
I'm going to assume everybody is familiar with this classic.  I used to own a copy but it was ruined many years ago and consequently I had never gotten around to reading it to the boys. So we remedied that situation a few days ago.  I had forgotten how much I loved it and how it is probably one of the most favorite books my mom read to us as kids.  I still love seeing the little house on its hill and how the seasons change around it . . . perhaps that is where my love of the seasons began? ;o)
And this cleaner--

(this is for a 6 pack of spray, hence the price)
I know I've mentioned my love of Mrs. Meyers before, and while the "lavender" still remains my most favorite I do find the "bluebell" nearly as appealing.  I don't know what an actual bluebell smells like, but this scent is light, fresh, and floral if that makes any sense.  I usually buy them directly from the Mrs. Meyers site--but only when I get an email for free shipping (Earth Day every year!!).  I think around Christmas time they had free shipping if you spent a certain amount (hence the reason I gave my mother and siblings "orange clove" cleaner sets for Christmas--that was a pretty good scent as well!).  And if you buy the "all-purpose cleaner" you can make your own counter-top spray--there is actually a recipe on the spray bottle!
Anyway, just a few things around my house right now that are bringing me delight.  And as an aside--a thank you to whoever used either one of my Amazon links or that little Amazon "store" on the side of my blog recently to enter Amazon and make a purchase.  I make a {very tiny} percentage of every sale that happens (as in, the 3 years I've been an "Amazon associate" I've earned ONE $10 gift card)--while it doesn't add up fast, it does add up eventually, and I love anything that helps fund my book habit. ;o)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Boys . . .

 Fascinated with the washing of the clothes.
 Intrigued by the whipping of the cream.
 Intent on creating.
 Overjoyed with the computing of numbers.
 And muddy.
 So, so . . .
 . . . muddy.

Baffling, bewildering, barbaric, AND beautiful boys. ;o)

Monday, May 13, 2013

May 5-11

 Drawing--Marissa has been working at different landscapes scenes (this is a forest).
 Reading--I can only assume there is a gaping hole on a shelf at the Kearney library after Jackson brought these home.  I asked Jackson if he was reading these or just looking at the pictures.  He said mainly looking at the pictures, but he did read this word--"dork ball." (giggle giggle giggle)
Of course he did.
 Photographing--Isabella and the dolls have been out exploring looking for *just* the spots to take pictures (and make movies). ;o)
 Loving--our playful kittens are in their "kamikaze" stage.  It looks like we have now found homes for two of them--and this little fellow is going to be journeying to the Carolina's with the Johnson's come early July.  They nightly have this crazy hour where they stampede around the house, smacking into furniture, dangling off the piano, and other crazy kitten shenanigans.  It is pretty funny.
 Creating--Jackson's found my remaining secret stash of "bare books" and helped himself, creating a series.
Tornado Book 1
Tornado Book 2
Tornado Book 3
Tornado Book 4
The boys then got working, creating oodles of drawings of--you guessed it--tornadoes.
Snuggling--"Violet" has also found a home causing Emmett to declare his undying affection and ask me about 50 times a day to photograph them together.  She is heading to Lincoln in two weeks.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Book Review: Bread & Wine

I chose this book to review because:
I like to cook.
I like to eat.
I had heard the book had some tasty recipes.

What I liked:
It was definitely a "yummy" read.  It made me hungry--over and over I wanted to stop reading and go try one of the recipes.  While I have yet to prepare one of the recipes I am looking forward to trying some new things.  I loved what the author had to say about food and how it connects us, how we can minister to others by sharing a meal together or by delivering a meal (or treat) to somebody going through a rough time.  I enjoyed the author's stories/reflections/etc on life in this regard.
What bothered me:
I suppose the title should have clued me in, as it is called Bread & Wine (I was thinking more along the lines of the communion analogy though).  But for a book to be put out by a Christian publisher I was a bit put off by all the mentioning of drinking, as if having alcohol available every time you entertain is conducive to a good time and connecting with others.  And I suppose somebody will probably think me being legalistic but I Corinthians 8:9 says:
"But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak."  It definitely isn't a book I'd want to hand to a recovering alcoholic.  If I had picked some random cookbook up off the shelf this wouldn't have bothered me so much, it was just the fact that Zondervan had published it--I wasn't expecting what I found.  I'm left a bit curious about her faith . . . she talks about officiating at weddings, as well as serving as a godmother for a Catholic friend . . . all things I found odd for somebody who I assumed was an evangelical Christian.

All that being said I enjoyed the book from the "foodie" side and I look forward to trying out some new recipes, but was left a bit perplexed on the spiritual side of things.

(Disclaimer--I received a free copy of this book through Booksneeze in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review or compensated in any other manner.  All opinions expressed are my own)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

April 28-May 4

 Kitty cuddles.
 Kitty lessons--"How to jump off the couch."
 Jackson and Emmett begin T-ball.  And I'm thinking we throw on some clothes and go, but silly me, ONLY baseball hats, baseball shirts, and baseball pants could be worn.  What was I thinking? ;o)
After being a bit remiss on filling the bird feeder for the past few weeks we finally got around to it.  Word got out quickly.  At one point we counted 25 goldfinches hanging out!
 "Look mommy, a cat-in-a-hat!"
Ha ha ha. ;o)
 For what we lack in grass we more than make up for in this pretty weed.
Gearing up . . .

Monday, May 6, 2013

Half-Marathon Recap

 I got up at 5:00.  I had a cup of tea and a bagel with peanut butter.  I practiced my running form.
 My friend Kathy and her husband Mark picked me up at 6:15.  We made sure to get a picture this year as we both completely spaced it off last year.  We had a chilly morning to deal with--around 42 degrees.  I'm thinking last year we started in the the 60's or 70's and it was humid.  This year was quite a change!
The anticipation--driving down there, waiting around in a crowd of people for your chance to cross the starting line--it always makes me a bundle of nerves.  I know I will be fine once the race starts, but I don't enjoy those nervous feelings.  
 Here I am around maybe mile 4 giving you all my Miss America wave.  ;o) On the left side of the picture you will see my new bff forever "Pacer" (whose real name is actually Mike).  Running with a pacer was wonderful!  It totally freed  my brain from checking time--I just followed his red shirt.  Pacers are amazing people, maybe part machine?  They carry their little pacing stick for the whole race and they nail those splits with impossible accuracy.
Over on the bike trail somewhere around miles 7 or 8?  I'm still a happy camper and can definitely tell I feel better and stronger than last year.  I love seeing all the people I know cheering me on.  Josh and the kids found me in five different spots.  I saw my parents, sister/nieces/nephew, sister's mom-in-law all right before the big mile 9 hill.  I love all the people in their houses on the big hill setting up their own "aid" stations--oranges, chips, popcorn, jelly beans, etc. Favorite handout?  The lady with the tub of "free bacon."  It actually didn't sound too bad, but I didn't want to risk it. ;o)
Around 11 or 11 1/2 miles I couldn't quite hang with the pacer anymore.  My legs were definitely "feeling the burn."  Stalking Mike came to an end. ;o)
 Heading up the last little hill to enter Memorial Stadium.  I always think I'm going to have enough left at the end to really power up there, but I don't.  No smiles, no waving, just determination to get across that finish line so I can stop moving.
Utter delight--met my 1:55 goal (plus 18 seconds . . . but that's okay)--four minutes faster than last year!
Nothing says "real runner" like getting wrapped in a foil blankie. ;o)  Kathy and I had joked about that prior to the race thinking those were probably just for the marathoners.  You can only imagine my excitement when I got one!  And it was needed!  Really the weather was perfect for running--I have no complaints.  But once you stop moving you realize how cold it is, particularly when all your clothing is drenched in sweat.  Those breezes cool you off quickly.  I got really, really painfully cold.  
Overall, compared to last year I felt so much better!  My legs didn't get as tired early on.  And the feeling of accomplishment is something akin to birthing a baby.  I can't really explain it, but it is thrilling.  There's so much I don't enjoy--all the lonely training, mileage I know I must get in, the snowy runs . . .  When I'm doing all that I think I'm not interested in ever training for another race.  And then I do it and I love it and I think "Hmm, maybe again . . .?"  We'll see. ;o)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Laundry Room Makeover

Back in the day when Josh was selling water heaters and stuff at Sears we made our first washer and dryer purchase.  They are now thirteen years old.  They have moved with us umpteen times and quite frankly have seen A LOT of life.  Both were kind of limping along . . . the washer had only one cycle that worked (it got stuck in all the other cycles) and after a small electrical fire a few years ago it no longer would stop spinning when you opened the lid.  And the dryer took at least 60 minutes for a load of clothes (usually a bit more for jeans), and towels around an hour and a half (yes, even with cleaning out all the vents/hoses/lint traps).  So, when Josh had noticed a decent sale at Best Buy and suggested maybe we take advantage of it before our current appliances officially died I was game. ;o)  But of course, new appliances set forth a whole chain of events.  The purchase, finding a trailer to borrow, driving to Grand Island to pick them up, picking up wood to build a pedestal for them, removing cabinets in laundry area because the washer/dryer would be too tall, patching holes/sanding, painting laundry room, building pedestal, painting pedestal, installing new shelf . . . you get the picture. It was a long process. 

This WAS my laundry "room":
 It would probably be better described as a laundry "hallway." This picture is taken standing in the dining room, looking in the doorway.  The door straight ahead goes into our 2nd bathroom.  To the right is the stairs to the basement.
 And this is the laundry area now:

Um, yeah, easily my most favorite area in the house! ;o)
I love these machines!  I average two loads a day.  I can skip a day, which happened this week and then I had five to do the next day.  Needless to say, laundry is a constant.  And now my loads dry in 40 minutes, towels around 55 minutes.  It has REVOLUTIONIZED my day.  One morning I had done 3 loads before 9:30.  In the past it felt like the laundry was holding me hostage all day.  Laundry is suddenly fun! And the machines sing me these cool little ditties to let me know when they are finished! ;o)  I love the pedestal Josh built me.  We decided we were too cheap to spend $500 on drawers for the washer and dryer to sit on and instead followed these plans.  The washer and dryer sit about 6 inches higher than they would if they were on the drawers, and the space underneath is high enough to store laundry baskets, giving me a little sorting station that stays tucked away.  This little hall used to fill with laundry piles and baskets.  Things are staying tidy now and I LOVE that.  And in case you are wondering the pedestal is crazy sturdy.  The plans called for 3/4 inch mdf board and we used 3/4 inch particle board to cut costs a bit.  Josh still wonders if 1/2 inch would have been fine.

Anyway, I think laundry and I have officially made peace.  I can still be found gazing at my machines adoringly and dusting them daily . . . I'm wondering when this "puppy love" will wear off? ;o)