Sunday, June 5, 2016

Teach a boy to fish...

Cael chose to spend his birthday money on a tackle box & tackle. Looks like 
the beginning of a life-long hobby!

Senior Trip

Seth (aka: best & bravest youth guy ever) took Rhys & Evan to Denver for their senior trip. Vicki took a load of girls and one stowaway who was desperate to spend the weekend with her bestie, Madi!

Their activities included: 
  • Zombie Escape room

(I found this little gem on their website!)
  • The Denver Zoo: Seems high schoolers have short attention spans and move quickly from one animal to another. On the other hand, Seth & Rhys were patient at the exhibits and the prize was watching howler monkeys do what they do and penguins having sex. Nice.
  • IMAX to see Captain America- Civil War. 
  • The mall. Rhys survived. 

Seth took the boys and the stowaway home. Quiet trip, he said. Looked like this most of the way.

Grandpa Tom

Now that my dad has moved just a few blocks from us, we see a lot more of him. 
That makes all of us very happy!

Grandpa trying to beat Kjersten at cribbage.

Grandpa and his "lap dog," Spike.

Mother's Day 2016

 A downside of homeschooling: I have never had a craft made for me that I didn't have a part in planning, creating, or paying for. 

An upside to kids in school: Mother's Day crafts that were complete surprises. And I do love them!

Floral arrangement by Cael. 

Same beautiful flowers with the coasters that George made. 
Love that they included both boys on one!

(I think I remember why I hate blogger. There is no turning these pictures. Use your imagination!)

Cael's letter to his mama:
Dear Mom,
Happy Mother's Day!!!!!!!!!!! I love you so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You're the best mom in estree (history). I know I have been dissobade (disobeyed) before. I hope I cannot do it again. I hope you have a great Mother's Day!!!!!!!!! 
Love, Cael

Seems he loves exclamation points and needs to keep plugging away at spelling....

George's card to the mama. Complete with a pop-out!

Mom, you are the most important person in the world to me and I hope you know that because it would break my heart if you did not know that. Love, your son, Brennen

Oh, my heart....

Think the boys love their big brother?

In a word, yes.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy (b)earth day, Jason!!

Poor guy has always had to share his day with tree-huggers, as Earth Day began the year before his birth. Jason rounds out the week of birthdays around here and will celebrate this year with a trip to North Dakota to enjoy the NFL draft with like minded crazy people! 

Not to be outdone...

George went and turned 12 yesterday. Kid thinks he needs to be a teenager and
is working steadily towards that goal. One more year, buddy...

Turning 12 is a big deal around here, as this mean mama won't allow kids under 12 in the front seat. I'm sure the ride to the bus yesterday was much more awesome with his new view. 


Darn kid is getting more and more fun the closer he gets to leaving...

Rhys turned 19 last Friday. I'm trying not to be sad that it's likely the last birthday he'll have at home for several years. I suspect the USMC doesn't give you your birthday off...

Grandparents came over for cupcakes.

And Grandma Barb made Rhys this awesome quilt. He's getting some use out of it 
right now as the USMC also doesn't let you bring a blankie. 

How to get a baby fix...

Step 1: Have friends who are Cradle Care foster parents.

Step 2: Be available when they have a baby placed in their care and need two days of help each week.

Step 3: Love up on that baby.

Meet baby A.

From birth, I got to snuggle, smell, rock, feed, burp, and kiss this little gift from God twice a week. 

He's six weeks old now and yesterday went to his forever home. I miss him so. 

I cannot explain what a privilege it is to care for a tiny being that isn't my own. I felt a little guilty soaking up his newborn smell and sounds, knowing that his mama (whoever that will be) should have this time. But I do know that ALL bonding is good bonding and he had much of it! I shared him with anyone I was with who needed some of that sweet baby. He was cuddled and prayed over by countless mamas. Babies really are good for the soul. 

" is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us.”

― Charles Dickens

Winning isn't everything.

Wednesday night, George had a tough game. The other team had some hard hitters and scrappy base-stealers! The boys worked hard but were behind the entire game. George played 3rd base and then 2nd. Both are full of plenty of action, but they're not the prize in his eyes.

Pitching is.

Coach put George in to pitch in the bottom of the 4th inning. I was shocked at how well he did! (I don't think mamas are supposed to say things like that, but I was!) He's got a lot of practicing to do but I think he'll get more time out there on the mound!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Rosie in real life...

In my previous post, I introduced you to my Instant Pot, otherwise known as Rosie. I haven't used her magic since the pulled pork on Saturday as we've had birthday pizza and leftovers and that's always easier than cooking! Anyhow, tonight we had plans. Then we had no plans. Then we had some plans. In the confusion, I did not take chicken out to thaw. Nor did I get home before 6pm. 

Rosie to the rescue! I put some frozen chicken breasts, water, chicken base and veggies all in the pot and cooked for 12 minutes. Yup. Twelve minutes. Pulled out the chicken, plopped in some dumplings, cooked for another five and... ta-da!! Dinner was done. All together, mixing & chopping, cooking, and releasing pressure took less than an hour. 



This is exactly what I hoped for when I bought her. She does not disappoint. 

Chicken & dumpling recipe here

Our favorite rainy day activity...

This latest puzzle was a 2000 piecer! Turns out, I do not have the attention span for such lengthy endeavors. This was 95% Jason. I did finally help at the end. I thought the houses would be fun. They were not. 

Mary Beth, it's all boxed and ready for your family whenever you need to fill a few (hundred) hours.

Opening Day 2016

Opening day signifies the beginning of spring in my world. So, last Saturday, spring arrived. Unfortunately, she came without sunshine or warmth. It was very cold & windy all day long. 

The day begins with team photos and the hit-a-thon. I think I was defrosting 
in the car when Cael was having his pics taken. 

 Both boys had games. Cael's game was great fun to watch. I sat with some friends 
on the opposing team and overheard strategy. Of course, I promptly filled Cael, 
the catcher, in on the plans! Stinky played catcher and loved it!

After the post-game team meeting, the coach gave Cael the game ball for his great attitude and good job catching. The boy could not stop grinning! He plans on collecting many of those game balls!

My favorite baseball snack! And, because no one in my family likes unsweet 
tea or dill pickle seeds (except Lou), I get them mostly to myself!

This is how little brothers entertain themselves at games. See George 
participating through the chainlink of the dugout?

This was George's play of the day: a triple!! He may not have made
 it home, but he got three runners in. It was awesome!

Who says boys aren't nurturing?

As you can see, Stinky still has Dinosaur (and Dino & Horncracker). What you may not know is that apparently, his dinosaurs only age to three years old before they revert to infancy. Dinosaur is now a baby terrible lizard again and therefore needs special feedings. His bottle is not milk as you might assume but blood because Dinosaur IS a carnivore. He has a special crib (a basket borrowed from the kitchen) and his bottle is a repurposed Nerf dart.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Meet George Jetson...

Actually, meet Rosie. 

You know, the maid who prepared quick meals?!

Otherwise known as the Instant Pot. This is a programable, electric 
pressure cooker that is all sorts of talented! 

On a girls' weekend to Red Lodge, Vicki brought along this wizardry. She made Broccoli Cheddar soup, mexican roast (for tacos), and brownies in this little wonder machine. It cooks foods very quickly and easily. It also functions as a rice cooker, slow cooker, steamer and even makes yogurt. 

Immediately upon returning to reality from the weekend away (much too soon, I might add), I ordered my very own Instant Pot, affectionately known as Rosie in my home! Browsing the internet for recipes to try until I'm brave enough to adapt my own, I see that there seems to be an Instant Pot cult following. The upside is there are a gazillion recipes to be had. The downside? These people are a bit off-kilter. Oh well. They do seem to like to cook! 

The promise of saving my best intentions in the reality of life is why Rosie now sits in my kitchen. She has replaced the rice cooker, the slow cooker, and the dutch over and, in my world, space is at a ridiculous premium. Rosie can also cook a frozen roast in an hour's time! When I have ignored my Plat To Eat menu plan and am seriously short on time, I can plop something in Rosie and have an actual meal on the table before bedtime! Sounds amazing, huh?

Today was Rosie's maiden meal. We spent the entire day at the ball field for opening day and I did NOT plan accordingly. Fortunately, I did not cave to temptation and stop for take-out. I came home, seared a pork roast in Rosie (yes, you can do that all in the same pot!), and made some awesome pulled pork sandwiches! Everyone agreed they were fantastic!

Clearly, a food photographer I am not.

Find the recipe here.

Look what Heather found?!

Going through photos, Heather came across these gems! 

Mariah holding a baby Rhys and Dane. 1997

Heather, Sheri & I (no clue on the year... 1998?)

Kjersten's baby shower 2001
She was a week or two old. I have no clue who took the pic, but 
Heather and I assume it must have been Kjersten as she's not in the picture! 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Where the sidewalk ends...

My dad owns & rents out a house on the corner of our block. Which means, my dad is there regularly. Which means, I walk down there often. Sometimes to visit. Sometimes to bring needed supplies. Sometimes to bring beer.

Anyhow, I walk the same path there and back & it reminds me of my childhood walking to and from school. It doesn't take long to know each crack, every tree root heaving concrete in a bid for freedom, and where all the best puddles form after a rain. Navigating the route to avoid hazards becomes second nature- stepping and jumping without a thought.

Today, on one such trek to dad's rental, it occurred to me that this sidewalk is imprinted on my children. Where I have to watch my step, they have already scooted to the other side. They know where to jump their bikes and what puddles are deepest.

So, today I walked a little slower and paid a little more attention to this backdrop for many of my kiddos' memories.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sorry Jason, I "had" to go...

I'm in Helena for a conference this week.

The drive up promised to be nasty. The forecast said 5-10" of spring snow and before I left town the steady rain had turned to a downpour of white. Fortunately, it behaved like rain all the way through the Bozeman pass. The turn at Three Forks put me on dry roads for the rest of the drive.

However will I manage?!

Surely,  I will return home smarter & well rested.

Freedom... none too soon, she says!

From this...

To this...

In no time at all. 

Congratulations Lou! You're a great driver. You know that's the truth because I trust you to drive my other children and my car!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter 2016

Well, Easter came and left without so much as a single picture of my people...

The family Easter basket was sufficient, if not exciting. It held a little candy for each of us, a 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle for a rainy afternoon, and the Charlie Brown movie.

Uncle Eddy and Grandpa Tom came to dinner. Again, nothing exciting to report (hence, no pictures)! We just grilled hot dogs and hamburgers.

The entire day might have passed for any ol' Sunday afternoon except for...

This masterpiece is courtesy for Grandpa Paul. Every Easter he builds one of these bad boys much to the delight of the grandkids. Instead of dinner at their house this year, Grandpa & grandma headed to Auntie Sara's and took an awesome bunny cake along. Because grandparents are known to spoil grandkids, my kids did not go without. Grandma & grandpa dropped our bunny cake off, along with some goodie bags, en route to Sara's. Lucky kids!