Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Another Year Begins

This morning we ventured back into the familiar...

but not quite as familiar as previous years. A new school (building) meant a later start date. A darker morning coupled with rainy skies required inside pictures for our crew instead of the front porch pictures we've done in the past.

Today the kids started their first day of 5th grade,

3rd grade,

2nd grade,

and another year of preschool.

Clearly there was a lot of energy as we headed out the door.

Because of all the changes at school, I got the privilege of helping students get to their classes in the morning. That meant the start of preschool would have to wait a couple hours. To my surprise, Miss Evie was ready and waiting when I got home to dive right back into her preschool routine. After an introduction to the calendar and a quick review of the letter sounds she learned last year, we're ready to tackle the last half of her reading book. Once we got started, there was no stopping her. This girl LOVES to learn.

As is our first day of school tradition, we headed out for ice cream after dinner. Normally the newest student gets to choose where we go for ice cream, but since this first day of school happens to land on Sean's birthday, he had the honor of choosing. Rita's didn't know what hit 'em. We took up over half the little shop. Really...there were only two chairs left for the many other customers.

Happy birthday, daddy!

So. Much. Energy.

Monday, August 1, 2016


I love summer...and seeds and soil and gardens and veggies and farmer's markets. And many times I wish that I lived on a lot of acres so I could have my own giant garden and fields and barns and animals (mostly chickens). And then I remember all the icky stuff that comes along with that wish. Um...I'll just stick with my three 4x4 garden beds and stopping at the farmer's market once a week because I don't like bugs and I don't like rodents and I really don't like snakes.

But I do like eating fresh produce. And canning. I really like canning. Today I pulled up not as many beets as I thought I had, but enough to make two of the four recipes I picked out for canning beets. And enough beet greens to double the pesto recipe I want to make.

I had just two little beets left over so I decided to add them to the CSA squash I had and saute it all up with the farmer's market onion I picked up last week and a few sprigs of oregano from our herb planters. The verdict is still out on the final results (I'm not going to name names, but not everyone in our family is a fan of squash and/or beets).

As a side note...aren't beets so pretty?

The rest of the week we'll be focusing on getting our beets pickled and marmaladed (pretty sure I just made up that word) and probably taking more pictures of beets because, you know...they're just so pretty.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Doctoring and Riding and Being 4

The countdown had been on for this girl to turn 4. For weeks she asked, "How many more days 'til my birfday?" And when I told her a number, I definitely needed to differentiate between her birthDAY and her birthday PARTY, because when you're 4 (or 5 or 6 or 7, I guess) there is no difference between the two.  She told me months ago that she wanted a Doc McStuffins party so I started gathering ideas as soon as I could because I'd never seen the show.

Guests were greeted at the door with a vision test. Anyone who didn't pass had to head back home. Just kidding! Of course, everyone was welcome.

After entering, they were assured that the doc was, in fact, "IN" and ready to celebrate.

We set up a photo booth where guests could gather their medical gear and get ready to treat patients.

Some of the guests needed a little help being framed.

Jack was the talent behind the camera,

but even he had a chance to get in at least one picture with the birthday girl.

Once everyone arrived, we started the games, ensuring that everyone had plenty of practice being both doctor and patient.

For the first game, guests paired up and decided who was going to be the patient and who was going to be the doctor. Then they had to choose a limb to be broken. On "go" the doctor had to put a cast on his or her patient (psst...it was a roll of toilet paper) and the first team to get the whole cast on was our winner.


During the next game, everyone got to practice being a good patient by taking their medicine without complaint. The "pills" were threaded on sticks and the guests had to eat their entire dose without using their hands.



Then it was time to pin the band-aid on Lambie

Most guests got close to her little "boo boo," but a couple were right on target. Hmm...maybe our blindfold wasn't as blinding as we thought.

Everyone's favorite part of a party is the dessert (at least everyone in our house) so we went all out with sweets. It's probably not what the doctor would order, but this mama loves to spoil the birthday kids on their birthdays so we convince ourselves that one day of indulgence isn't really going to hurt anything.

The cake was inspired by this one. The characters are now part of the ever expanding collection of Doc McStuffins toys at our house.

The pill jar cookies (and cake pops) were influenced by this adorable party. I had number cookie cutters on hand from when Wesley had that amazing math assignment so I cut out 4's and a few apples with the extra cookie dough.


We also had band-aid graham crackers,

pretzel stick thermometers, and sweet tart hearts to snack on.


The kids filled their favor bags operation-style by grabbing candy from Stuffy's various ailments. We made personalized bookmarks out of craft sticks and washi tape, put them in bags and then let the kids grab their own candy as a parting gift.

Our tradition for the last several years has been to take each of our kids on a special birthday date; just the three of us; they choose the activity. This was the first year that Evie participated in that tradition and she chose to go on rides at the Mall of America. This was a popular choice for the older three for many years, as well, but their date choices are now more reflective of their interests and personalities.

Although this birthday date began as the "default," it couldn't be more fitting for this adventurous, daring, fun-loving, silly 4-year-old. She LOVED every minute of every ride. The bigger and faster the ride, the more she loved it. The joy and delight captured in her facial expressions is explanation enough.

Happy birthday, sweet Evie. We hope you never lose the bold confidence with which you approach life. God has gifted you with a tender sweetness and a fiery passion that will honor and glory Him through the work you do for His kingdom. We love you more than words could ever say.