Friday, June 29, 2012

A little magical

We spent our morning playing hard at a splash park.  Sandwiches in the car on the way home....towels and swimsuits laid out in the grass to dry....children crashed out in the playroom listening to audiobooks.



It's that beautiful part of the afternoon I like to call: The Magic Hour.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Difficult to see my day through the mountain of laundry...

Things on my to-do list today:

Make raw-nola
Make granola
Make 3 loaves of bread
Repackage mail-order clothing items to return
Scrub bathrooms
Fold two weeks worth of laundry


It's hard to feel motivated with a checklist like that, when all that I want to do is curl up in my bed and take a nap.

What's on your to-do list today?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer Day

"Mommy, what can I do?  I'm SO BORED!!!!"  I have heard that so many times in the past week, that I think I'm just going to start having them draw from the "punishment work jar" to pick their own poison.  Because you CERTAINLY can't be bored anymore if you're scrubbing down the baseboards....

With this week has come a welcome relief in the form of Summer Camp. With the older two boys gone, the two littler ones are much more content with their low-key play, and at the end of their first day yesterday, Sparky and Max were exhausted and happy.  Good stuff.

Yesterday my friend Lisa came over and we made dehydrated Kale chips (in my Excalibur 9-Tray Food Dehydrator, LOVE IT!), and also a quadruple batch of raw cashew "cookie dough" in my Vitamix blender.  I will share the recipe for both the cookie dough (because of course I've tweaked it from the original), Sweet & Smokey-Spicy Kale Chips, and Garlic & Olive Oil Kale chips sometime soon.

dehydrating kale chips

making raw cashew "cookie dough"

I love having healthy snacks around.  I am often so busy taking care of the children and our household that it can be difficult or impossible to stop and properly feed myself.  With a cache of wholesome snacks on hand, I can at least tide myself over to the next real meal -- or even just make a snacky meal-on-the-go, depending on what I need.

This morning, Daisy and I planned to give ourselves manicures, and of course Billy was right in the middle of it, choosing and arranging "his colors", rather seriously.  I have nearly always told him "no" before, but I knew it would make him sooooo happy....he was really angling for all different shades of red and pink, but we worked out a compromise -- he gets a full mani/pedi, but only in black/blue/green.  I painted Daisy's nails in a "Skittles" colorway with lots of glitter on top.  EVERYONE had a happy morning.

A manicure morning

Today during Billy's naptime, Daisy and I realized that it had started raining violently outside.  We quickly made cups of hot tea to cuddle with and watch the storm...

Teatime with Daisy

Teatime with Daisy
I am loving the quietness of today.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

An eye on the joy

Happy children in the pool...
Pool Babies

Happy pink polka-dot nails...
happy pink pin-dot nails

Today has been far from perfect, but it has certainly held quite the handful of smiles.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Goodbye Greg...and free-form plushies

Saying goodbye is always difficult, but driving Greg to the airport on Sunday after spending a beautiful 18 days together was simply heartbreaking.  I felt like a piece of me had been ripped out and put on that flight...hugging him that one last time felt like one of the most difficult things I've ever done.  I'll see him again in 6 weeks, but for now, I'm trying to focus on all of the amazing memories we made during his visit...dates we went on...times together as a family...times with friends.

Frozen custard date

a frozen custard date with Greg

The last Sunday he was here, he ran sound for our church's band (my fav sound guy ever), and singing this song to him nearly tore my heart in two.  The song was written about a troubled relationship, but there are lines in it that apply... "And this ache is going to break me love...until you come back home....there is no home without you...and these eyes are never going to dry, I never knew how I could cry...."  On the upside, I made it through the song without falling apart.  Mostly.

(Long instrumental -- vocals start right around 2:58)

Thankfully, we also sang a few superfun songs like this one.  I LOVE OUR BAND!

As we were driving home from the airport, Daisy started telling me that she felt cold.  I figured she was just being over-dramatic, so I adjusted the air conditioning and didn't think about it again.  We went to a friend's house for a Distract Us From The Pain party (OK, so it was actually not expressly for that purpose, but that's what it was for me!), and a few hours later, one of the other children at the party came up to me and mentioned that they thought Daisy had a fever.  I thought that it was an over-exaggeration until I felt her head, and realized she actually was burning up.  The next day we visited the doctor and....she tested positive for strep.  Because that's the sort of thing that happens whenever Greg leaves.  How lucky.  I was also super glad that we were able to spend time with nearly EVERY FRIEND WE HAVE to spread the strep around.  Because we're thoughtful like that.


Two days later and I found that I had strep as well.  Woohoo.  LOVE being sick with 4 children!  My favorite part was definitely waiting in the exam room for 2 hours while the Dr took his sweet time to write me out a prescription.  Because that was the moment that Billy realized it was his naptime and started throwing an OHMYGOSHTHEWORLDISENDING style fit.  Superfun.  On the upside, after starting a round of antibiotics, I was feeling far better the next day (Thursday), and so we decided to make it a Project Day.

The children chose simple shapes to trace onto fabric (or in the case of Max, used fabric markers to painstakingly draw his favorite toy).  I then sewed around the shapes (leaving a small opening), and then cut them out, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance all around.

Making free-form plushies

After turning them right-side-out, we stuffed the shapes and then I whipstitched the openings closed.

Thankfully, while I was doing this tedious little bit of handwork, I had plenty of entertainment.  Because there's nothing like a Magical Fashion Show to keep your mind off of things.

A Magical Fashion Show
Hooray for free-form plushies!

Making free-form plushies
Permanent Sharpie marker, fabric marker, and/or buttons used for eyes/features.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Greg's Summer Break: recap

Throughout Greg's time at school, we knew that we'd get in a weekend visit from him now and then, but it was a welcome surprise to find that he was able to get a full 18 days of summer break, starting on the last day of the children's school year.  What a great way to start the summer!

Last day of school 2012
The children with their teachers on the last day of school.

The very first weekend Greg was here for summer break, our friends Pixie (my early-morning running buddy!) and Jason got married.  One of my BFF's, Jenny, was the events coordinator, and did a FABULOUS job of creating one of the most special weddings I've ever been privileged to attend.

Unfortunately, Greg and I didn't get any pictures fact, NONE of our friends got couples photos...but on the upside, all of us girls made sure there were pictures taken of ourselves!  Ha!  Oh my.

Jenny and I

Angela, Grace and I


I love all of these beautiful friends

We've had a fair amount of rain this year, so our nearby lake was actually full enough to go swimming!  (NOT the case last year.)  While Greg was here, we only made it there once, but I plan to go again with the children throughout the summer to meet up with friends and play.





Max's birthday fell just at the end of the visit, so Greg put together a Pirate Party for him.

Max's 7th birthday party

Greg organized a Treasure Hunt through the woods to find ingredients for the "Grog" (virgin, of course, with Piratey ingredients like "Sweat squeezed from an old pirate sock...and sand from a thousand beaches....")

I'm not really a big fan of decorating cakes, so when my friend Alicia found a pirate ship cake pan at the library, I was very excited (did you know that you can check out cake pans from the library?  How fun!)  I made a simple yellow cake, and made a big bowl of whipped cream stabilized with a bit of gelatin.  (For every 2 cups of cream: dissolve 1 tsp gelatin in 2 tablespoons cold water for about 5 minutes.  Melt in the microwave for about 20 seconds or until liquidy.  Add a little bit of cream slowly to the gelatin -- perhaps 1/4 cup.  Whip the rest of the cream with some sugar and a little bit of vanilla extract until slightly thickened.  Add the gelatin/cream mixture to the cream/sugar in the mixing bowl.  Whip until stiff.  Thank you Aunt Terry!!)

Max's 7th birthday party

I served the cake plain with whipped cream on the side.  As an oversight, we somehow didn't have any forks on hand, so we encouraged the children to "eat the cake like Bad Dirty Pirates".

Max's 7th birthday party

Max's 7th birthday party

And yes, I did have to just hose down the entire playground after this incident.  But it was fun.

Opening gifts...

Max's 7th birthday party

Greg and I gave him a slingshot (OK, so Greg picked that out), and as party favors, each of the party guests got a bag of slingshot ammo.  After the Cake Incident and Gift Opening, everyone went to do a little target practice at a range that Greg had set up.

Max's 7th birthday party

Max's 7th birthday party
As it turns out, Daisy is a crack-shot with the slingshot!

Max is 7 years old!

We fit so many adventures into the 18 days that Greg was home, and we are thankful for every moment we had together.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Where we've been

For the past few months, I haven't been able to write much.  At the end of January, Greg went away to CGSC (Command and General Staff College -- formerly ILE) an Army mandated school, which stretches nearly the span of the year; he will graduate from the course in mid December.  At first, I had intended not to write about it, because I feel uncomfortable with publicizing the fact that Greg is away and we are, essentially, "home alone".  However, without being able to write about it -- an outlet I've come to rely on -- I've found it hard to write about anything at all.  And that's no good for me.  So after discussing it with Greg, we have decided to go public.  This is happening.  We are living a year without Greg.  And it sucks.  But we are still having fun little adventures, engaging in crazy single-parenting struggles, and all sorts of other tasty little moments that just BEG to be blogged about.

A little bit of photographic catch-up of our year so far...

My parents and my sister Hannah and her 3-year-old son came to visit us for 10 days in April.

Awards ceremony at school

Awards ceremony at school

They visited the elementary school, met the children's teachers and participated in an awards ceremony, we went to the library, playgrounds, went to pet the tiny chicks at the farm supply store and got an on-the-fly lesson on shoeing a horse, among other fun.



I love watching Billy and Chazz together.  They are only 5 months apart, and their interaction and diverse personalities are so amusing.


The bluebonnets bloomed!  Billy unfortunately celebrated with a friend by gathering a few (illegally) for me....lovely, but ill-advised.  We love spotting the great waving banks of bluebonnets along the side of the road when they are in full bloom.


We learned one of the most complicated ways to cure hick-ups when we convinced our friend Josh H. that the only way was to stand on his head while someone fed him water upside-down.  Truly a Kodak moment if there ever was one.

curing hickups

The children had Field Day at their school, with all sorts of water fun, colorful sno-cones, etc.  Mostly we hung out with the Pre-K class, which Billy fit into seamlessly, and somehow didn't manage to get any shots of Max at all.  Oops.



Catapulting water balloons into a crowd of waiting kindergardeners.





We had a bit of unwanted excitement one night while, during a party, our kitchen light fixture started falling out of the ceiling.  My dad had noticed this happening several weeks prior when they were here, but I never got it fixed.  Oops.  Anyway, our man-friends JUMPED into action, pulling out all manner of tools, etc., that I didn't even realize we had in our garage.

Fixing the kitchen light

Fixing the kitchen light

All of us ladies had some fun watching them all work it out.

Fixing the kitchen light

In the end, the light was secured to the ceiling once again.  Beer + man-power = success!  And a fun story from the party.  Score!

For our church's anniversary celebration this year, we had an ice cream competition, so my friend Grace and I entered a batch of Bacon Praline Pecan (using this base -- the smoothest ice cream EVER) that we froze using dry ice and my Kitchen Aid mixer.

Making ice cream with dry ice

 Making ice cream with dry ice

So fun!  Also rather exciting in the beginning when we didn't quite know what we were doing, and made it boil over a few times and shoot dry ice at us out of the mixer bowl.  Oops.

Also that night, there was a whipped cream incident.  Ahem.  No comment.

Whipped cream
Me, Grace, Angela

And that's all I've got to say about that.


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