Friday, July 31, 2009

Best Day of Summer

Do you remember what summer was like when you were a kid? When school would end, you'd look at this enormous expanse of free time ahead of you, rejoicing. Then, the middle of July would hit, and you'd be bored stiff; even playing in the sprinklers didn't sound fun. But August began and with it, the back-to-school sales and you knew your hours were limited before you had to spend everyday indoors again.

Summer feels different as an adult, particularly as a parent. But as summer is winding down this year, I definitely feel the pinch to fit in all the fun we can before school starts. Especially since this year Isaiah starts first grade, and all-day school. Well, I feel like it's okay that school will start in a couple of weeks because we've had our "best day of summer." Yesterday we rented some jet skis and went to Sand Hollow Reservoir with Adam's sister, Shelli, her husband, Ben, and their kids. Saying we had a good time doesn't begin to describe what an experience we had. The sun was shining, but not too brightly, the water was warm, there was a nice breeze, we had a great beach, and a handful of hours to play and play and play. Both Isaiah and Katie told me, at various points in the day, that it was the best day of their life. It was pretty great, I have to say.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Max's first real injury, inflicted when I dropped several magazines I was placing on a shelf, just ask he scooted under me on Tuesday. Today it's just about gone (thank heaven, I was getting tired of telling the story of how I gave my baby a black eye!). Don't worry he cried hard, and it bled, but only for a short bit. Then he nursed and was smiley again, as you can see in the picture.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Food, glorious, food!

I've been cooking! Here are some of the great things that have been coming out of our kitchen:

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Okay, so these are nothing out of the ordinary for most people, but I have always struggled with chocolate chip cookies. They come out flat, they're inconsistent, they burn or they're doughy. I have drilled Adam many times on how he makes his cookies come out so well, but none of his tips worked. Guess what did? Extra flour. Yep, that's the big secret. Here's the recipe I followed, it's just off the back of the Hershey's chocolate chip bag, but I changed the flour amount to what I actually did.

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2-3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Beat butter and sugars together until creamy, then mix in vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Scoop onto ungreased cookie sheet with cookie scoop. Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack and cool completely. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Zucchini Bread
For whatever reason, we didn't have zucchini in our garden this year, which actually made me sad. Luckily, my mother-in-law did, and she left some with us, so I got to play. This zucchini bread recipe is really yummy, and it makes two loaves, so you can make one to eat and one to give away.

Chili and Broccoli Bread
We've really been loving our new ward's playgroup, which meets on Tuesdays for Lunch Bunch, a potluck lunch and kids' class/activity. One of the best things about it is trying everyone's yummy food. One day there was this aromatic, savory cornbread I couldn't stop eating (and neither could anyone else). Luckily, Tina had pity on us and shared the recipe, which is really simple. (Sorry, Anne, I forgot the picture. We were hungry and ate it before I remembered! I need to keep my camera in the kitchen.)

1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
2 eggs
1 med chopped onion (I did much less, about a quarter onion)
1 box frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained (I used fresh, also worked great)
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 stick butter

Mix together. Pour in greased loaf pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

And in order to have an excuse to eat cornbread for dinner, I made chili. Here's my chili recipe. I threw in two diced tomatoes out of the garden, it only made it better.

1 lb ground beef
2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
1-1/2 cups water (I reduced the water to one cup this time because I added the tomatoes)
1/4 med onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp white sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Brown ground beef, crumble and drain. Add remaining ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil. Simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Serves 4.

Chicken and Rice Casserole
This is a simple dish, but one of our favorites. I like it because it's dinner in one pan, and it's versatile; I can add vegetables or leave them out if I'm planning a side dish. This last time I added broccoli; you can also do peas or a frozen mixed vegetable blend.

2 chicken breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup rice
1 cup milk
1 can cream of chicken soup
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper to taste
1/2 cup cheddar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together rice, milk, soup and seasonings. Place chicken in a 2-quart casserole dish; pour mixture over chicken. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 30 minutes; stir, replace cover. Bake 15 minutes; remove cover, stir and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake 5 minutes more.

Tag Ball

When I saw camo print flannel on the cheap fabric table at WalMart, I knew immediately I had to make something fun with it. This is what I found, perfect for my little boy who loves balls and is my first baby to really get into tags: fingering them, sucking on them, snuggling them. Here's his reaction:

Mmmm, tasty.

Yea, Mom! I love it!

Do the Swim!

I have to hand it to Adam, the pictures he took of swim lessons this year are some of my favorite swimming pictures ever. Thanks, honey, for getting these shots! June 29-July 9, 2009

Isaiah floating

Katie's class clinging to their teacher for dear life as they move through a deeper section of the pool

Max and I enjoying the Parent/Tot class


Here are my favorite shots from July 4, 2009:

From the watermelon seed spitting contest:

Our winner, accepting his prize.

From the Sunbowl, where we watched the fireworks:

What is a holiday without a special hairdo?

Such cute matching redheaded cousins! Max scooted across the blanket to give him this kiss.

I was worried the noise would bother Max. Not so, he loved the show, and danced to the music the whole time.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Roughin' It

Our Family Camping Trip, June 22-25, 2009

For our family vacation this summer we ventured out camping at the KOA campground in Glendale, Utah (between Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon). It was a great adventure, not the least because I had a stomach bug Sunday night, the night before we were to leave--Father's Day, no less.

Monday morning we had planned to pack up and leave after lunch. Because I was still sick and weak from the night before, Adam had to do all this on his own. It was a huge job, and we didn't get out of town until around 5 in the afternoon. We drove through Zion on our way, and the kids were much more interested in the scenery than I had anticipated. They loved going through the tunnel and seeing all the amazing arches and waterfalls. Our first night at the campground we set up camp and roasted hot dogs for dinner.

Tuesday morning dawned bright with a dutch oven blueberry muffin cake and eggs and bacon and sausage cooked on the cookstove by the resident camp chef, Adam. We decided to go in search of a petting zoo we had seen a sign for on our drive to the campground the night before, but when we arrived at the trout farm/petting zoo, we were told the animals hadn't arrived yet since they'd opened only three days prior. Instead, we fed the fish in the pond, then Isaiah and I each caught our first fish.

The fish jumping for their food.

Don't I just look like a pro?

Okay, maybe not. But I felt so brave to touch the slimy thing!

It cost a bit to catch these fish, but it was really easy and they cleaned them for us. For an extra fee, they also fried them up. Here's Isaiah trying his own fish. He was so proud of it, he ate quite a bit. It was pretty good, if you didn't pay attention to the fact that it was still looking at you. Or, you could just try eating it's eye, like Adam did, and then it wasn't looking anymore. (He said it was about like eating a grain of rice . . . yum!)

Katie was terrified of the fish, and refused to touch a fishing pole or go near a fish alive or fried. She ate a couple of bites of this apple for lunch. She looks pretty chipper, eh? That didn't last.

After our impromptu fish fry, we ventured toward Kanab, looking for another petting zoo and some tennis shoes for me (mine had been left at home in the packing chaos). We found some tennis shoes, but the closest thing to a petting zoo was the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, so we stopped in hoping to see some animals. They informed us that we had to schedule a tour, and we could do that, but it would be a wait. We weren't sure the kids were up to waiting around all afternoon, so we watched their video thinking we'd see how everyone was at the end. Right about the end, Katie started puking. Copiously. We tried to clean up the best we could with the two paper towels the lady there gave us, then gave up and instead cleaned Katie up in the restroom, stripping her down and wrapping her in a towel for the 30 minute drive back to the campground.

It was a quiet afternoon and evening, Katie alternating between sleeping and puking in our cooking pot (the one bowl-like thing we had with us). I took Isaiah and Max swimming in the KOA swimming pool while Adam made dinner. It was advertised as heated, but "heated" in the mountains means "not frozen," apparently. Despite the heat outside, it was a little too frigid for me. And even Isaiah didn't get in for more than a few minutes. It was nice to have an excuse to not be wearing a lot of clothing, however.

Dinner was delicious. Pulled pork (yes, made in a crockpot--our campsite had power) and dutch oven potatoes. Then, Adam and Isaiah played kickball in the field behind our campsite and were soon joined by a couple of boys close to his age. After a few minutes, their father and I started talking as we watched the kickball game. It turns out he is in Shane's carpool, and they ride to work together every day! We got to know their family a bit over s'mores at their campfire that night.

We spent Wednesday morning around camp. After some delicious breakfast burritos (made by Adam, of course), Katie took a nap in the shade of a tree and Adam and I sat and read while Isaiah played with his new friends and played video games. We had sandwiches for lunch, then went for a leisurely hike on a trail by our campground. You can see the "Mini Bryce Canyon" formations behind Adam in the first picture:

Max loved being in the front pack. He was bouncing and kicking and laughing. He thought it was the best.

As hot as we were after our hike, we decided to give the pool another shot. Everyone spent at least a little time in the pool except for me (I waded a bit, but man, it was cold--my feet got numb).

Adam took the kids for a drive to watch a DVD and to put Max to sleep for a nap while I made pork chops on the cookstove and baked potatoes in the campfire. I also attempted a cobbler in the dutch oven, but must have forgotten something important in the four years since I last made one, because it didn't turn out. Adam made the kids some JiffyPop popcorn on the campstove to eat while they finished their DVD, and then they went to bed while Adam and I had more s'mores and read around the campfire.

After some delicious sausage and egg sandwiches on English muffins Thursday morning (made by Chef Adam, of course) we struck camp and headed to Zion for a hike. It was cloudy and windy and threatened rain, but it was nice enough once we got through the park. We rode the shuttle up to Weeping Rock. Here's a picture from the window of the shuttle before my camera's battery died:

So, no pictures of Weeping Rock, but it was beautiful, and such a nice hike. Very steep, but not long at all. The kids thought it was great, and were disappointed that it was over so quickly. We took them down to the river to look at tadpoles before we got back on the shuttle.

We stopped in Springville at Blondie's Diner for a late lunch/early dinner (it was really yummy, and almost worth what it cost) and checked out the elk in the pasture next door. Then it was home to Santa Clara to wash the campfire smell out of everything!

Father's Day

June 21, 2009

We love Dad and Grandpa!

(Don't mind the crazy boy in the middle.)

A Special Day

A few shots from Isaiah's 6th birthday, June 18, 2009:
Thanks, Aunt Anne!

The new bike is a little big . . . he has to get started on the curb.

But he has no trouble once he's started; he's a maniac!

Argh, Mateys!

June 17, 2009

This year, exhausted from 8 months of not sleeping through the night, moving, and trying to sell our house, plus anticipating three children's birthdays a year for the next 20-some-odd years, Adam and I decided to go small for birthdays. I know, pigs are probably flying around some farm somewhere.

Isaiah was the first to try out our every-other-year plan for big themed birthday parties. He had a great attitude about the whole thing. And, surprisingly, I enjoyed "small" much more than I thought I would, and not just because it took less prep, money, and energy. More time was spent actually celebrating Isaiah and less time was spent running around like a crazy person, grouching at anyone who ruined my plan (not Isaiah's plan, of course, because why would his birthday be about him?!).

We told him he could choose a special place to go, somewhere we don't go all the time, and invite three friends (the actual number changed from one to three when it became too difficult to choose just one). He chose to eat dinner and play arcade games at Pirate Island Pizza. Here are the swashbuckling boys (and Katie) enjoying their giant pizza and handful of tokens:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hang in there . . .

Big update coming soon!!

P.S. We've been really busy with summer. How about you?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Summer Hair

Summer means more time to spend doing hair in the morning!! Here are some fun 'dos we've been doing.

Cousin Hair
I watched my nieces and nephew two weeks ago, and was so excited to try out different colors, textures, and lengths with hairdos. Here's what I came up with.

Katie's hair that day:
K: (Such a fun blondie, but it's been so long since I've done shorter hair, I had to be creative. I remembered how much easier it is to do messy buns on shorter hair, though. I've linked to how to do these knots farther down in the post.)

R: (Oh, the beautiful red hair! I thought her hair would be coarse and difficult to work with, but after doing it, I wanted to do it every day! It was so soft and stayed where I put it. So fun.)

Park Hair
We were going to the park for a family birthday party on a warm evening, so I wanted to have Katie's hair up and out of the way. I didn't intend to take pics of her hair, but since I had the camera out, I snapped some shots. You can see how fuzzy it gets after a nap. Anyone have ideas on how to prevent that?

Top View

These knots are super easy and quick, and actually helped with parting the hair for the french braids. Theres a tutorial for them here and there's a video for them here. I got the idea for this 'do here.
Back View
Side View
Up 'Do
I'm afraid of up 'dos because they always fall out after about 30 min to an hour. This one didn't. I looooooved it, too, because it was so cute. I just parted her hair in three horizontal sections, ear to ear, and french braided across, braiding down to the ends. Then I twisted the three braids together and into a bun, securing it with a rubber band. Added a fluffy hair tie, and voila! Easy peasy and stayed all day. This is a simplified version of this 'do. I really had fun with the "Frenchbraids with Flair" series she was doing.

And our new favorite hair tip, for all those rubberband-heavy 'dos, like the first picture I had in this post: a seam ripper. I got the idea from Jess. Awesome!