Monday, August 29, 2011

Resident Artist

I found this on Sterling's dresser this morning:

Some days I'd just like to get a glimpse of how that boy's mind works.  He comes up with the craziest things!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Project Tree House

When we moved here 11 years ago, one thing we liked about the house was the big deck in back with the tree coming up through the middle.  It was a conversation piece, but we soon learned that it wasn't extremely functional.  In fact, we never used our deck other than as something to walk across to get to the garage.  Why?  Target practice.  Seriously.  The birds who made their home in that big tree liked to dot our deck with their droppings making it clear that sitting under the shade of that tree was potentially hazardous.  None of us were ever - in eleven years - willing to risk it.  So, when Jeff decided to cut off the deck, we didn't protest.  Sadly, no one thought to take a picture of the deck before he started his project, but here is a picture of it in progress:
Here is what it looked like once Jeff had it put back together:
Once the tree was freed from it's captivity, it was just screaming for a tree house.  Jeff, not one to shy away from a challenge, was up to the task. 
Here's the base:  
And here is the finished product (though it will be getting a coat of paint this weekend):

 On a nice day with a slight breeze, lying in that hammock with a good book is heaven! 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Spencer and the Big 12!

Happy Birthday to my Spencer!  I can't believe this handsome guy turned twelve yesterday.  Twelve!!  This is an important age in the church.  Turning twelve means he has graduated from the Primary program and advanced to the Young Men.  This afternoon, Spencer was ordained a deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood.  What a great responsibility and opportunity for Spencer to serve and represent Jesus Christ.  I have no doubt that he'll do great things.  Kind and thoughtful, Spencer has always been pleasant to be around.  He is conscientious, hard working, and diligent.  He likes to get his work done so he can curl up and get lost in a good book.  This boy reads more than anyone I know!  He is a good friend and a great student.  He likes to joke around and have fun, but he knows when it's time to be serious.  One of my favorite things about Spencer is that he goes to bed when he's tired and gets up so easily in the morning.  Somehow that skill has eluded most of the other residents of this house... 

Spencer, I can't imagine life without you.  You have been a blessing since the day you were born and continue to make me smile everyday.  Thanks for being you.  Thanks for the example you are and the happiness you spread.  Happy Birthday, buddy.  I hope 12 is your best year so far!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String

My latest wrapping paper of choice.  So simple.  It makes me smile.  And sing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

First Day

Man, that went by fast!  Summer I mean.  It's hard to believe that those carefree, lazy summer days are behind us and we're right back into the routine of school.  The kids have had mixed feelings about heading back to the classroom.  For Sadie it couldn't come fast enough, but for the others it came all-too-soon!  I've had mixed feelings as well.  This is my first year with all 6 of them in school all day.  Fortunately, I've been feeling anxious to deep clean and declutter and that is so much easier to do without the kids pulling everything back out of the trash.  :)  I'm sure there will be plenty to keep me busy around here.

As far as first days go, today was fine.  No major mishaps.  One locker that won't open and a bus ride home that took way longer than it should have were the biggest glitches.  Today was only a half-day, breaking them in gently.  Tomorrow will be the real test when the classes are longer and there's a possibility of homework.  I'm sure it will be fine.  We'll all adjust to the new schedule and muddle through as best we can...and look forward to Christmas Break!

Here's the gang this morning: (Their smiles may or may not be forced...)

These two braved new schools this morning.  Sterling attends the school closest to home so he gets to ride his bike (Hooray! No bus!) and Spencer is in Middle School with temperamental lockers. 
Savannah had her first day of High School and only got lost a couple of times.  Sam is just glad he's not the new guy this year!
Sadie loves her new school!  She got a great teacher who is like sunshine everyday. 
Soren is the big man on campus this year.  He's in 3rd grade which is the highest grade in his school.  He was thrilled to get the teacher Sterling had last year. 

Here's to a great year! 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Recipe: My New Favorite Cookie

Marta's Coconut Krispie Chocolate Chunk Cookies
You may think these look like any old chocolate chip cookie, but looks can be deceiving.  So you take a bite and you think, "Mmmmm....  Chocolate and...something else...what is that?  Is that coconut?  OH YUM!"  And then you notice the ever-so-slight crunch.  Rice Krispies?  No way!  Yep, these are seriously delicious.  I should know.  I've made them three times in the past 3 weeks.  I bake all 6 dozen and put 3 dozen in the freezer for later.  Obviously later comes pretty quick around here.  :)  We love them and so do any friends we've shared them with.  This one is a keeper!!

Hop on over here to meet the genius behind these yummy things.  Marta has the most delightful blog full of creativity and real life goodness.  I don't know her in person, but her older sister was roommates in college with my one of my high school friends so we're practically bff's.  Just kidding.  I mean, just kidding about the bff part.  The roomate/friend part is all true!  

Anyway, if you want to make a batch of these cookies yourself (and you should!), here is the recipe.  You're welcome!  :)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Funny: Kid History

I know it's been awhile since I posted a Friday Funny.  I was going to abandon the idea and move on, but I just happen to be posting this on a Friday and it just happens to be really funny.  So there you go!  We recently discovered "Kid History" and it's quickly become our new favorite.  Seriously makes us laugh every time we watch.  Good stuff!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Growing Up

This girl is getting so big.  She's pretty happy about it, too.  Me?  Not so much!  For one, she's my baby.  I kinda wanted her to stay small for a while longer.  And two, she's growing out of her shoes and clothes left and right.  There's not much I can do about making those shoes last a little longer, but I've found a solution for at least some of her clothes.  Ta da!!
I literally threw this little slip/petticoat together one day in about an hour.  I even used an old white sheet because I wasn't sure how it would turn out.  I love it and it allows her to keep wearing all her cute dresses and skirts that were getting way too short!  I'm tempted to make one for me...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Day at the Zoo

Ever been to the St. Louis Zoo?  It's big, it's fun, and it's FREE!!  Yippee!!  Here are a few photo highlights of our afternoon there last week:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Girls' Camp - All Men Have Joy

This was on the back of their t-shirts.  Isn't it clever?
Savannah sweated it out at Girls' Camp last week.  It's held at a Boy Scout Camp over an hour from here. From what I've heard, the girls get to use the camp and facilities after the Scouts are finished with it for the summer which means early August and blazing hot!  Since it doesn't really cool down at night here, there is little relief from the heat and humidity.  But they make the best of it and have a great time anyway!  (If you're lucky, you get sick or hurt and get to go hang out in the air conditioned nurse's station for a while...) 

I could have gone for the week.  I thought about it and even planned on it.  But then a sister in our ward asked if she could go.  We already had a very capable camp director who was going.  With only 6 girls, we certainly didn't need 3 leaders.  I weighed the options - let's see...sweating all week, no makeup, sleeping in a tent (not to mention I snore like a chainsaw so I would have been banished to my own tent far, far away) - and I decided to stay home.  However, I did drive up and spend the day with the girls on Wednesday. 

I was able to witness Savannah's amazing fire building skills. Technically she and I were a team because there was an odd number of girls, but all I did was help gather the tinder and kindling.  She lit the fire (earning herself the title "one match wonder") and kept it going.  The object was to burn through the twine.  Savannah finished first and then bragged about how awesome she is to anyone who would listen wondered what to do for the next 30 minutes while the other girls tried to figure out how to light a freaking fire.
The Stake camp director rigged up a rope over a ravine for the girls to cross.  That was a highlight for Savannah and she handled it well until she started screaming, "Don't look down!  Don't look down!" after she looked down to see where she was.  You can see her screaming below:  (Honestly, she loved this and would have done it again if there had been time.)
I enjoyed my day.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't happy to sleep in my own bed that night, but I'm thinking about going for the whole week next year.  (Is there such a thing as battery powered A/C?)  Except for a bee sting and a bazillion mosquito bites on her feet, Savannah had a great time as well.  She made new friends and is looking forward to next year!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tall Corn

Out here in our little corner of the midwest, there is acre after acre of corn and soybeans.  By this time of year, the corn is so tall that you really don't see much else as you drive the country roads.  A few years ago, we were driving the back road to church when Savannah made the comment that she thought the corn was almost as tall as her.  Jeff assured her that the corn was much taller.  Doubtful, she got out of the van and held her hands up to see if it was really taller than her.  It was.

This year it's been Sadie asking when she could measure herself against the corn.  Today was as good a day as any.  It's probably reached it's full height or close to it.  Here's the gang, minus Savannah, illustrating how tall it really is.  For a frame of reference, Sam (on the far left) is 5'8" and Jeff is just shy of 5'11".  That's some tall corn! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Vacation: Goblin Valley Revisited

We have finally come to the end of our vacation!  Hooray!  The very last day was spent in the van so nothing exciting to report there.  But the second to last day, we ventured off the beaten path and stopped at Goblin Valley.  Goblin Valley is a state park in Utah and was one of our kids' favorite stops from last year's vacation.  They begged to return.  Once again they loved climbing up, over and around the cool formations.  It was a perfect diversion from sitting in the van all day and a great way to end our trip. 

See the arrow?  The next 2 pictures were taken from up there.  It was a pretty good hike for Jeff and the boys.

This one looks like a frog.

The ground, while no longer wet, had some cool effects from the rain the day before.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Vacation: God's Country, part 2

Boy, we crammed a lot of cool stuff into our vacation this year!!  I'm almost finished.  I Promise.

Leaving Nevada officially started our long drive home.  The first day of driving wasn't bad.  Only about 6 hours in the van with a detour along the way to see Zion National Park.  Jeff and I visited Zion a couple of months after we were married, but none of the kids had been there.  It was worth going a little bit out of our way to see it on such a nice day.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

It was pitch black inside this very long tunnel.  The kids loved it!

Skipping rocks.

After a great day at the park, we drove to Jeff's brother's house in Enoch, Utah.  We had to pass through the little town of Toquerville, Utah to get there.  I've been to Toquerville when I was a little girl and I have fond memories of it.  It's a good thing we didn't have time to drive around.  Just our quick drive through the main street showed such a cute little place, I was ready to move in.  It was another perfect day.