Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ava and Blake on the Lake

Yesterday we took a trip to nearby lake.  It was our first time on our boat as a family.  In fact it has been 5 years since Ed and I have used our boat.  Let's just say we have been busy.  We are so happy we did this, everyone enjoyed this trip.  We were nervous about putting the boat in and getting it out by ourselves, but it was not crowded and people were very patient.  It actually went more smoothly than even we expected.  After we put the boat in we coasted around and found a spot to eat our picnic lunch.  Then we drove around to find a place to fish.  While we were driving around Ava and Blake fell asleep, well kind of.  Blake took an hour nap:
Blake napping peacefully in the boat.

Ava slept 20 minutes in my arms and when I put her down she opened her big blue eyes and said, "Hi Mommy".  After several attempts to get her back down we gave up and she fished with Daddy.
Ava "napping" and really looking back toward Blake thinking:  See what your missing by napping Blake!

After Blake got up we fished a little more (only thing we caught was a branch) and then drove around the lake.  We came in and had dinner at the marina and headed home.  It was a great inexpensive family fun day.

Pie Pie, Pie Par = Caterpillar

Ava is more interested in saying, "cheese" for the camera then she is in the pie par.

I'm sure this caterpillar is thinking...What in the world are these people doing?
You say tomato, I say kids say pie pie or pie par and the rest of us say caterpillar.  As usual we went outside after dinner, mainly so the kids can run off their energy before settling in for the night.  Blake found a caterpillar crawling up a branch that was left from the latest storm.  This was very exciting to my 2 1/2 year old son whom loves insects (unlike his mommy).  He decided to try and coax it into a yellow cup, but it was not interested so we watched for a while and then decided to kiss it good bye while we played ball and mowed (toy mower also referred to as mo-mo).  As usual I told the kids they had five minutes until we had to go in for bath.  Not that a 18mth or 2 1/2 year old understand this, but I do it anyway.  We cleaned up and decided to say good night to the caterpillar, but we could not find it.  I lovingly told them that the caterpillar was probably busy getting ready for bed too.  They accepted this answer and we trotted inside for our night routine of bath, snack and Cailou.  I was getting a treat out for our dog, Tad, when I looked down to see this caterpillar on my shirt!  I ran over to the kids to see if they noticed anything strange about my shirt and Blake was so excited to see his caterpillar hanging on to my shirt.  I on the other hand was less than pleased to have a creepy crawly on my shirt (he was on me through bath and snack), but I tried to remain calm and told them I would be right back in after I peeled the sticky legs off with a thick blade of grass.  Just another exciting evening in our house:)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Back on the Homestead

Lately I have been up to my eyeballs in canning.  My hands are the living proof, they are dry and yellowish from cutting up fruit.  So on Monday I decided to keep going and make salsa.  My best friend Sheila gave me this recipe last year, but it has taken me until now to try it out.  I had a lot of tomatoes (thanks to my garden and my Uncle Jim's garden) and we had onions (thanks to Ed's brother Jim).  The other ingredients we bought, but I think it is more "homegrown" than not.  Ed entertained the kids and I got busy.  I did have to call Sheila and give her a good laugh when I asked how to peel a tomato, did I mention that I have never made salsa and I wasn't raised in home where we canned anything.  She laughed then talked me through the steps.  In honesty I also asked her how to cut up the tomato and get the seeds out...go ahead and chuckle.  Through the laugh she informed me not to seed the tomatoes and just throw them in my food processor.  The only problem is that I only know one thing on my food processor and that is puree!  Let's just say I didn't want to make my salsa chunky.  All in all I am thrilled with my salsa and so is my husband.  We have gone through 3 pints and have another one open!!!!!  And to think that Ed questioned me on why I was making salsa.  I don't think it will last us until the Super Bowl!

Here is my giant pot of salsa.  Looks delicious, don't you think?

Our Pool Trips

The summer just isn't the same to me unless I have spent some time by the pool.  Now we don't have a pool, well we do and I fit comfortably in it, but I mean the kind you can dive into.  This year I have been blessed to visit a slew of pools.  We started the summer at Brenda's pool (Ed's sister) next we invited ourselves to  Kerry's pool (Sheila's sister), then went to Erin's pool (well technically her parents), hopped over to Moss Springs (thanks to Sheila being a member) and today hiked up to the Pine's pool (Suzanne's Dad and Step mom).  I haven't captured many pictures, in fact today is the first time I pulled my camera out, because I am a nervous nellie around water.  I am professional swimmer = I am very confident and comfortable in water, but my kids have not had any lessons and are used to the simple baby pool out back or the bath tub, which is why I am nervous to not have my hands on them at all times.  Let me also mention that I am not in "swimsuit form".  Anyway I am so glad I have pushed through my nerves and taken them because Blake has really gotten much more confident in the water since our first pool visit.  In fact I am so happy with his progress that I have decided to take both Blake and Ava for swimming lessons at our local YMCA.  I want my kids to be able to swim and feel comfortable around the water.  It has been a skill that I truly appreciate having thanks to my Mom signing my brother and I up for it every summer.  Now Ava, she is what you call overly confident.  Yesterday she was diving into the water head first.  I had to gently pull  yank her out and she just sputtered the water out of her mouth and went on like nothing was happening!  I on the other hand almost fainted.  Thank goodness we were in the wading pool.  I look forward to the days that I can read a book in my chair by pool and my kids play and splash in the pool.  I also look forward to the day I can afford a membership at our local pool:)
Here are to two quick pictures I snapped yesterday!
Breanna, Blake, Lauren and Ashely.  Brady was working with his Pappy during this quick photo moment.

Ava eating a pretzel.  All that swimming makes a girl hungry and we know what happens if we don't eat...very fussy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blake's toes with a coat of clear nail polish.

Ava's toes with Starlet painted on her toes.

Two happy children with painted nails!
Last week we were having our dear friend Holly take pictures of our family.  To get ready I decided to paint my nails, a rare treat for myself these days.  Once the kids saw my toes painted they decided they wanted the same thing.  Happily I painted 20 more toes.  I tried to just paint Blake's with a clear coat so that Daddy wouldn't go too crazy, but Blake insisted that his be pink too.  To me this is no big deal, but Daddy and Pappy Dukehart thought it was a little much.  It didn't stop him or me from letting Blake wear pink nail polish.  We never made our photo shot because Blake and I ended up with poison ivy that made us uncomfortable.  This is also when Blake started with a virus, see my previous blog "up to my ears in poop".
Ava even allowed me to paint her finger nails, a first and probably not the last.

Our Homestead!

Blake, Ava & Daddy husking the corn.

This is what 300 ears of corn looks like!
First we got 300 ears of corn, which took me two days to husk, clean, cook, cut and bag.  I know that this winter I will thrilled to reap the rewards of these two days.    We do have corn planted, but I was worried we wouldn't get enough to last us this winter.  We ran out in January and our family loves fresh corn.  In fact once you have fresh corn nothing else will satisfy you.  We were able to give 100 ears to my parents as a small token of our thanks for all the help they give us during the many small and big things to even begin to list.  We just hope that even though Hallmark doesn't make a card for all the things they do for us that they know they are very appreciated.

Blake and his cousin Amanda on top of a truck load of potatoes.

Ava holding a potato.  This girl loves to get dirty!
 Wednesday night Uncle Jim, Dustin (Lori's son), Uncle Sam, Aunt Esther, Amanda, Brianna, Ed, Blake, Ava and myself picked potatoes.  We ended up with 18 buckets (5 gallon buckets) full and each took home 6 buckets full!  Let's just say if you come to our house or we bring a dish 9 times out 10 it will be a potato dish.  If you ever are stuck for a potato dish I now have 3 outside the typical mashed, baked or broiled regulars.

Proud to be helping and not watching on the sidelines.

Daddy and Ava working on snapping beans.
 Now we are picking beans!  Luckily my kids do love green veggies unlike my farmer friend Holly who is pleased to have one child eating something green.  Ed picks them, I wash them and the kids and I snap them and I can them when the kids are napping.  I am hoping to get 50-60 quarts from our garden.  The good thing about green beans is that more come on every time you pick them and of course the rain this week has been helpful.

We also picked strawberries, which was on a previous blog and we picked and froze peas.  I wish we had more peas because we all like them too, but we have a few containers in our freezer.  Peas just don't go far once they are shelled. 

I hope you enjoyed our garden story! 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Birthday Fun!

Ethan is eager to beat his opponent!  This is the only way for me to get his photograph...he is selective to who takes his picture, but when he is famous for all his good work I want to say that I knew him since he was little.

Yes, I know this is a little blurry, but it was hard to keep up with Ava, she was having too much fun to pose for a picture!

It was even hard to capture Blake's picture, he was busy sliding down a slide, but quickly gave me a shout out of "cheese".
 We went to a special birthday party of one of our dear friends...Ethan!  He turned four and we were thrilled to attend his party.  We played lots of games, rode on a dragon, played in a play area with slides, enjoyed pizza and cupcakes.  We even took home some prizes that they won from the games.  Thanks and Happy 4th Birthday Ethan! 

Just another Day at our House!


Beauty Queen!
One of our favorite games is playing Peek-a-Boo!  I guess because we can all play and it always makes us giggle in delight.  Don't you just the simple life:)

Another fun time is wearing Mommy's shoes!  Even Blake likes to stroll around when I leave my shoes unattended (which is frequently).  Ava is my dramatic movie star.  Isn't she just precious.  Her smile is contagious. 

Up to my ears in POOP!

I'm sure the 3 readers that I have are anxiously waiting my next post and it has been weeks! 

Well, first of all I had all these posts and I couldn't get my pictures to show up on my computer.  I love pictures with my blogs so I really wanted to wait until I could post my blogs with the appropriate photos. 

Then the "poop" hit the fan!  I took Ava last Monday for her well check.  I told the nurse practitioner that her bum was sore because she had diarrhea which I chalked up to getting teeth.  She agreed and we talked about Ava's teeth and how she hates them brushed and that led to me getting referrals for local dentists. 

Later that day Blake started with diarrhea so I started the zinc oxide with him (A&D).  No big deal...right!  8 Days later the poor boy still has diarrhea.  I called the doctor twice last week about his diaper rash and poison ivy that he and I broke out in.  They called in a diaper rash cream prescription and gave me advice on treating poison ivy.  Monday I took Blake to the doctor because my nerves are shot, he is in that much pain.  He has a virus, infection, diaper rash and poison ivy!  I am even having his diarrhea examined, crazy I know.  Although he is not better as of today I pray and hope you do too that my sweet baby boy is on the mends.  I have cried a lot because it pains a mom to know her child is not well and hurts and there is nothing more she can do to console him.

Special thanks to Mom for continuing to take my calls and coming out to help:)  She showed up on Sunday with Zyrtec and poison ivy lotion for me and a sub, what a saint.

Popcorn, Get your Popcorn!

Notice the "Steeler" salt shaker!  I did forget to put the brown paper lunch bag in the picture, but you know what they look like.
 Ahh, there is nothing like a fresh bowl of popcorn as you sit down to relax for the evening.  I love popcorn and have a great recipe for a cheap and healthy way to eat a loved snack.  Holly posted this on her blog and at first I tried it, but stuck to my ready made bags, now I use this recipe all the time.  And no my kids can't eat popcorn, but that makes me smile because there is more for me!!!!  Selfish I know, but sometimes when they are in bed it is a nice treat and well I think I deserve a treat too.
All you need is:

1/4 cup popcorn
1 brown paper bag (lunch size)
salt and butter to taste (I use the spray butter)

Okay so it's not all that healthy if you are like me and like salt and lots of butter!  But remember I told you it was my treat.

Microwave it for 1min 30seconds - 3minutes, depends on your microwave.

The best part is that you can reuse the brown bag several times...until there is a whole in it!  I buy a bag of kernels for less than $2 at a local store and it lasts months.

I also just read in this months Ladies Home Journal that microwave popcorn bags contain a chemical that has been shown to start menopause early in women!  They recommend popping popcorn in a brown bag.

Just Hanging Out!

I love the summer months when most of the day is spent outside playing.  You always get plenty of vitamin D and the kids just seem to sleep better.  I love the sun and warmth and grilling and just relaxing outdoors.  Which explains why the inside of my house is dirty!  My deepest apologizes for those of you that enter my house during the summer.

Blake and Ava love all of Daddy's big boy toys...tractor, mow-mow (lawn mower) and 3 wheelie (4-wheeler).  Blake constantly asks if he's going to get a ride on something and Ava lights up like a Christmas tree and oohs when she sees Daddy coming on a riding toy.  Here are some photos of my babies with their Daddy on the Big Boy Toys!  Mommy tells Blake and Ava that she doesn't know how to operate those big toys (partially correct at least) so we will have to ask Daddy for a ride.

Daddy also taught my little ones to hang on a tree branch...thanks honey!  Blake likes to hang from the tree and Ava well she thinks she big stuff.  I had to take their picture "hanging out".

Look Mom, One hand...see anything boys can do, girls can do better!

My Baby is Growing Up!

Ava is now just shy of 18mths and we have given up bottles!  Now some of you out there may think it is high time, but I am not a cold turkey sort of person and have no need to end something abruptly.  It's sad to think of my angel no longer in my arms sucking on a bottle while I pray and thank God for her.  She is such a blessing and I have so much to learn from her.  Now we have started a new, bath, snack, brush teeth, read, pray and bed.  Last night Pappy Dukehart lovingly helped me move an old sofa (Pappy and Grandmother's old sofa) to Ava's bedroom so that Blake, Ava and I can read in comfort.  Last night was a hit because it was new, but I am not sure how the rest of the week will go.  When Ed is home our hope is to alternate putting the kids down.  One night a week I will just have Blake and one night I will just have Ava.  Our hope is that both kids feel good about whomever puts them to sleep.  Right now Blake walks in his Daddy's shadow and Ava walks in mine.  The first night I have Blake and Ed has Ava should be eventful. Next item to give up...Nuk (please keep us in your prayers:)

Ahh, Sugar Sugar

I sent my husband to the store and as you may know he usually finds the economy size items and definitely doesn't stick to my list.  He always finds something he thinks we need, always thinking ahead!  I asked for sugar because yesterday morning when I went to get my coffee ready (SUGAR, MILK, and a dash of Coffee) I took that first wake me up drink and it burned my mouth.  No it wasn't too hot, I had put SALT in it not SUGAR.  My sweet husband decided to lovingly fill the sugar bowl thinking he was putting sugar in it, but instead grabbed the container of salt.  Now to his defense I have salt in a Tupperware container that is not labeled.  It certainly woke me up, but did not improve my mood.
He did go to the store for me and this is what he brought home:

Yes, this is what 50 pounds of sugar looks like!  Now, he tells me he purchased this large amount because we are about to embark on our yearly canning.  I guess he is thinking ahead and wants to be sure that we don't run out of sugar. 
I must also mention the large economy size Saltines and Honey Graham Crackers that he brought home and two bags of Twizzlers!  He certainly makes me laugh when he goes shopping.  Yes, I would rent him out if you would like economy sizes and a dash of surprise added to your grocery list.

Ice Cream Social

Saturday, my Mom and I took the kids to an ice cream social.  Unfortunately Daddy had to work and couldn't come, but we had a nice time.  We bought books at a rock bottom price ($0.50 a piece), got our faces painted, touched an alpaca and a snake, listened to a story, ate ice cream (thanks Happy Pappy and GrandMary), and watched a magic show.  It was a great morning and the kids loved the small gathering.  More importantly they loved the chocolate ice cream:)