Thursday, July 31, 2008
Right after arriving home from my Great Northwest trip, we were blessed with company from California! Our good friends, the Elliotts have been on a 5 week cross country trip, visiting old family and friends, and we were on their list! We got to know Cathy when we lived in Tuscaloosa and I was tutoring in the Athletic Department. We were both pregnant (me with Kellen, her with Molly) and she was looking for someone to watch Molly after she returned to work. So, beginning at 4 months old, I got the privilege of watching Molly during the day, and a few months later I began picking up Jeremy and Laine from school and watching them for a few hours, too. Lots of good times and fun memories! Now, Laine is 13, Jeremy is 9 and Molly is 6!
I had to include a pic of Molly and Kellen since they began their friendship at 4 months and 1 month of age, respectively. They sure had fun being back together! The Elliotts visited us a couple of times after we moved up here to J'town, but since they moved out west, it had been 4 years since we've seen each other.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
This year we stayed at Joy's parents' friends' cabin (got all that?) in Long Beach, Washington. It's right on the ocean, almost on the Oregon border. The weather was beautiful--sunny and breezy, but perfect for strolling the boardwalk (Joy borrowed a wheelchair from her church so they could push me). Only nursing babies are allowed on these trips, so Joy had her 2 month old, Sam, with her. He is adorable and did great all week!
We went into town for a little bit each day (partly so we could get cell service to call our families!), and walked in the surf and strolled around the little town. We fixed great meals while we were there and played lots of cards and Pictionary. A very relaxing time, full of lots of raucous laughter! Another bonus is that it's always a very affordable trip because we split all our expenses four ways (even travel, which I thank them greatly for!!!), we enjoy cooking our own meals (at least Joy and I do, and then Summer and Becca like to clean up!), and we're content to entertain ourselves with games, talking and laughing. 'Til next year, girls! I love you all!
A special thanks needs to go out to all our hubbies who support us to keep this commitment to each other. Also, thank you to my good friends Stacey, Elisabeth and Mallery who all took my children at various times to give Brian some free time. We appreciate you!!!
Monday, July 21, 2008
Today is Owen's 3rd birthday! I often call him my "miracle baby", as I was 17 weeks pregnant with him when we were in the car accident. Three years ago today I was still in a wheelchair, but blissfully happy that we had our first boy and he was amazingly healthy despite all the trauma, surgeries, anesthesias and medications. Today, he is as normal as normal could be, and just a perfect compliment to our family. He is cuddly but tough, loves his siblings, and is growing up to be such a big boy! We had his party on Saturday, and tonight he requested spaghetti and meatballs for his birthday meal!
Our kiddos in front of the bounce house we rented for his party. It was a huge hit with all the kids who came, and since they couldn't pick it back up until Sunday afternoon, we inflated it again yesterday before church for everyone to play again!
Even Dawson liked it, as long as he stayed on the front edge where he felt safe!
My first attempt at truly decorating a cake! Previously, polka dots was about as adventuresome as I got! My awesome friend, Kelly, spent part of her Friday night teaching me how to mix colors and use her frosting tips. I think we came out with a pretty darn cute cake! THANK YOU, KEL!
Friday, July 18, 2008
As you can see from the pics below, Owen got to participate tonight. He was so PROUD! Since I showed pics of the girls last week, I decided to showcase Owen's events tonight.
Owen throwing the discus.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Today I thought I'd share a couple of our favorite grilling recipes. (I say "our" because even though Brian does NOT cook, he does do all the grilling!) The corn is delicious, and a little different than most grilled corn because it is actually grilled with the husks pulled back and used as a handle, versus with the husks around them (which actually just steams the corn, creating a very different flavor). The herbed butter soaks into the corn, so you don't even need to add anything else to it once it hits the table. The zucchini boats are also delicious, and usually even a hit with kids because of the yummy, cheesey "stuffing". I've never used mint in the zucchini recipe, by the way. Enjoy!
Grilled Corn on the Cob
4 ears sweet corn in their husks
6 Tbsp. butter coarse salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley (or 1 Tbsp. dried)
1 clove garlic, minced
Strip back husks and leave attached at the stem end. Remove silk and hold back husks with a string or rubber band to form a handle. Brush corn with the garlic butter as it grills, rotating often. The ears are cooked when golden brown, after 8-12 min. Keep husks hanging over edge so as not to catch fire.
Stuffed Grilled Zucchini
4 medium zucchini
5 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion
¼ tsp. minced garlic
½ c. dry bread crumbs
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 Tbsp. minced fresh mint
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
Cut zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving ¼ in. shells. Brush with 2 tsp. oil; set aside. Chop pulp. In a large skillet, sauté pulp and onion in remaining oil. Add garlic; cook 1 min. longer. Add bread crumbs; cook and stir for 2 min. or til golden brown. Remove from the heat. Stir in the mozzarella cheese, mint and salt. Spoon into zucchini shells. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until zucchini is tender.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Each Sunday you get the coupons out of the paper. I sometimes even buy an extra paper if there are a lot of inserts because I know it will be worth it in the long run. Here in our town I have to purchase a paper from a larger nearby city b/c our local paper doesn't carry all the inserts. Anyway, I clip the coupons and file them by category in a notebook.
Then, every Sunday you look on the website for the current week's lists. We can subscribe to Kroger and Walgreens here, so I do both. It is $10 for 8 weeks for the first store, and $5 for 8 weeks for the second store, but my savings far exceed the cost of the service. You look at the list and see what your family could use. The list is color-coded so that black items are on sale, but not the best deal, so only buy them if you really need them that week. The blue items are the lowest price that item will go, so go ahead and stockpile that item. The green items are completely free, by the time they're on sale and you use coupons, rebates, etc.
The Grocery Game has a database that tracks when items will be the lowest sale price. Often, a store will put fruit snacks, for instance, on sale for $1.67, but then if you wait a couple more weeks and they'll be $1.00. Then if you use a 50 cent coupon and your grocery doubles it, like our Kroger does, then you get your $2.25 box of fruit snacks for free! It's just a matter of knowing when to "play" your coupon.
While there are many great things about this, there are a couple caveats, too, that I should share. First, it does take some time, especially more at the beginning. You have to figure out your system of how you'll organize your coupons, and the most efficient way to find them when you need them. Second, you need a place to store your stockpile! I know several friends who have purchased an extra cabinet for the garage. Third, you can't be brand-loyal. I always used All Free Clear detergent from Sam's Club, but now we may have Tide, Purex, Surf, etc. because they're what were on sale in the past.
On the plus side, it has been fun to try out some new products that I may not have bought for my family before. It's also nice to buy the snack items or other more expensive items that my family enjoys but I didn't used to buy very often. It's come in handy when it's time to bring snacks for teams or pre-school classes, and I'm currently stocking up on very cheap school supplies! Another positive is that I have plenty of supplies to donate when there's a need. I also love to entertain, so it's nice knowing that I currently have a turkey, a ham, a couple of roasts, a couple of whole chickens, some pork tenderloins, and lots of chicken breasts and hamburger meat in my freezer! It has made meal planning easier, and if there's an item that we want to buy that hasn't been on the list, I know I can justify it because I've saved so much money on other items. Finally, though it does take some work and time on my part, as a stay-at-home Mom, I consider it my "job" to make Brian's paycheck go farther and be good stewards of our money. Plus, it's so fun! At my most recent Walgreens trip, my bill was over $110, and I only paid $31! It's almost addicting!
If any of you decide to check it out, they allow you to have a 4 week trial for $1. If you try it, let me know what you think, and if you have any questions about it, feel free to ask!
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
If you read the previous blog, you know that Brian is out of town, so I was flying solo at the meet tonight, but the kids did great. In the 50 m & 100 m dashes, there weren't any other girls competing, so Kellen and Peyton ran in the boys events. Kellen had some older boys in her group, but Peyton's group was mostly boys her own age or a little younger, and she came in first out of the whole bunch! In all, the girls won gold medals in each of their events, for a total of four per kid! They were certainly proud and had lots of fun tonight!
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Thanks to our excursion to the firehouse and a fun Chick-fil-A lunch afterwards, and then precious naptime, the day has gone very smoothly for us at home. The kids were great tonight, too. They ate a good dinner and then I built a fort in the living room and they watched The Lion King in it. And since none of them really know how to tell time yet, they didn't have a clue that they actually went to bed before their normal 8:00 bedtime! Is that being a mean mom? Hopefully I won't regret it in the morning if they get up early! Anyway, we miss you B, but we're doing great, so don't worry about us!
Today we took a trip to a local fire station with our friend Stacey and her kids Ty and Sarah (Kellen was at her friend Bella's house playing for the day). Owen's birthday is coming up and he loves fire trucks, so we went to take some pics of him with the trucks so I could create his birthday invitation. They all loved climbing in and on the trucks, holding the hose, honking the horn and petting the fake dalmations! They even have an antique truck on display that was J'town's first motorized truck in 1933!
Good buddies Cade, Peyton, Kellen, Colby, Owen, Kate & Megan
Kellen and Peyton got to play on the same softball team this year. With Brian and I being former athletes, we've dreamed about this day, but didn't think we'd get to see it happen 'til high school, since the younger ages are usually so divided. But, for once, they were on the same team and had a blast! They won their tournament, five games later, on a very hot day, so the trophies made it all worth it!
Our family after the rehearsal.
Our summer vacation literally began hours after the kids finished their last day of school, as we boarded a plane to Baltimore for my neice's wedding. It was basically a large family reunion, with only one brother-in-law, two nephews and a nephew-in-law (is that a word???) absent. My brother, Kevin, father-of-the-bride, did an incredible job preparing for the influx of all of us, providing us with vehicles, baby equipment, food, maps, etc. Whatever we needed! We had a couple of large picnics/parties, in addition to the rehearsal and the wedding itself. Kellen and Peyton were the flower girls, which was certainly one of the highlights of their little lives! We pray for Erica and Josh to have a fulfilling, fun, Christ-centered marriage!