July 31, 2014

{PHFR}: Last week of July.

round button chicken
Be prepared for an onslaught of pictures.  We've had a very lovely not-much-to-do sort of week and I finally have been able to play with my new-to-me camera.  I'm still figuring it out.  And maybe realizing that perhaps a DSLR isn't the best choice for me right now?
I love sunsets.  And I love that you can take a zillion pictures of them and each one is just as beautiful as the one before.

Just like the sunsets, I love the many faces of Caroline!  I love each and every single photo.  And I felt that way with each one of my children at this age.  Still do.  Only now, they are faster and harder to photograph! Sweet Caroline is still very much my cuddler and happy to just hang out with Mom.
I am really happy with my containers this year.  Not much else in the garden is making me happy but these big pots are.  Keeping me supplied with color!

The weather has been so lovely lately.  Not mid-July-ish at all.  The younger crew seems to get this revived burst of energy about 8pm and they are so happy and peaceful playing outside that I hate to break the spell.  So, some very late bedtimes going on around here but worth it.
These two are becoming two peas in a pod lately.  Very, very happy.

The required silly face ...don't worry, they weren't driving the quad, just pretending!
And this face is what I get most of the time when Caroline sees me with a camera.
Or better yet, lets make that face while we eat popcorn with a spoon on the couch.  That works well.


We've had so few dinners together lately that when we do--they are downright crazy.  Peter wants to tell Ken "secrets" (like, that he likes buttered bread) the whole time or generally half snuggle while eating.  Carrie screams for crazy things like knives, ketchup, and spatulas.  But she doesn't really want them.  She also really doesn't want to sit in her high chair the whole way through anymore.

These three guys are normally sorta peaceful at dinner.  Until there was a rush on mac n cheese.  Then all bets were off!

July 30, 2014

July Funnies.

Where I document all the funny things they say, whether they like it or not!

Haha!  I've got the spatula!

Me: What's that sound?
Liz:  You know those frogs we found? 
Me: Um, yeeessss.
Liz:  Wellll... One we let go.  One is basically loose in the house.

Nathan (yelling at Patrick): I didn't want to be all wet!
Me: You're in the pool.
Nathan: Oh.

Nick:  If you sin will your soul get all moldier?
(That's a pretty good way of thinking about it!)

Liz: Look at me I'm a picture frame!
Liz: I'm water Elsa! (As she splashes in the pool ...)

Nick: I'm not going to be a Dad (why?) it's stupid. You have to buy everything! I'm just going to live on eggs.

Liz: I don't want to get married to a boy with a beard, mustache, earrings or anything girly!     (....thinking...) I bet Jesus always looks good with long or short hair.

Liz:  I kinda want to be a nun.  Except that I want to be a mom too. You can't do both. 

July 26, 2014

Rocketeering and a rabbit trail.

Watch out, I might be referencing terms like "Fair" and "4H" and "Projects."  You've been duly warned.

The Saturday after the fair, was project pickup.  And of course, the boys couldn't wait to light some rockets off into the sky.  Especially after some of the comments on their projects (for instance, that Nathan's nose cone was too tight, or the fins not glued well, etc). they all wanted to see how well the rockets performed.

 The boys and their 4H Aerospace projects.  The judge said that Patrick might not get his back (it is a two-stage and goes super-high) so we wanted to make sure we got a good photo!
 Carrie had to be included in one, of course!

Cute bystanders.  They were so nervous most of the time that they stayed under the shelter.
We did use the smallest engines possible in Patrick's to try and make sure it wouldn't go beyond recoverability.
 We had four very successful launches!  (I've got great videos!).  We launched Jacob's twice, worried that we were going to lose Nathan's into the lake, thought for sure we'd lost Patrick's only to find it right under our noses.  Jacob's seems to be unscathed.  Patrick's and Nathan's rockets lost some fins but we recovered them so we were all super excited that they turned out so well.
 Afterwards, of course, we must climb the big hill to the top of the Brookville Dam.  Huff, puff, huff, puff.  What a gorgeous view!

We started to head for home, pulled through Mickey D's for some shakes, started talking about Metamora and on a whim headed that way.  We'd never headed out that way but we are glad we did!  There's a train, a canal boat (pulled by real horses!), a water wheel and all kinds of exciting stuff.  We arrived too late in the day to do any of the "stuff" but we enjoyed walking around.
Caroline waits for the train that didn't come.
We did find some trains that were very interesting to watch.  (Except the guy that ran the shop requested that Peter and Caroline observe through the window.  I was okay with that.  The shop was full of glass lanterns from ancient trains.  Eek!)
The Ben Franklin III.  Looks like it needs a little paint.

Caroline took it upon herself to be the baby ambassador of Metamora.  Hello and Goodbye!

It was a great Saturday!  (We can't wait to do it again and maybe even ride the train....).

July 25, 2014

A recipe: Southwestern Beef, Beans, and Rice.

It is a good thing I am not a food blogger.  First of all, I'm not a creative cook.  My kiddos like plain and simple and I don't like making food that people won't eat.  Second, I stink at taking food pictures.  I blame the lighting.  Third, we really really never ever call things a real name.  Or the same name twice.

The kids: "Mom, whats for dinner?"  Me:  "Oh, you know that southwestern rice with the beans and beef and stuff."  The kids:  "I haaaaate beeeeeefffff!"  Me: "No, you like this stuff."  The kids:  "What's beef?  What is in this stuff?"  Me:  "You know, the dinner with the rice and the corn and the beans and cheese...."  The kids:  "Oh yeah, I like that stuff."  One random child, "Can I have just the beef?  Just beef not touching any rice?"  And so the conversation goes.  Every.  Single.  Time.

This recipe is my current 20 minutes or less favorite.  Everyone but the One Random Child eats it as is.  It does require rice from the freezer and beans from a can.  Someday I will make my own recipe for the rice but for now--I like this meal because it is relatively cheap for a family of 9, quick to make, and I can keep all the ingredients on hand.

Southwestern Beef (that's what I call it).

3 bags Birds Eye Southwestern Rice blend (at about $3/bag.  Not too bad.  Healthier than takeout.)
1 can low sodium black beans
1.5 lbs stir fry steak  (I often find this marked down and throw it in the freezer)
Shredded Cheddar or Mozzarella, yummy either way
Tortilla chips, if desired

First, spray your pan with olive oil.  Season beef with salt and pepper and brown in hot oil.  While that is browning, microwave your rice blend.  It takes 4 min/pkg but I do two at a time in my microwave. Rinse and drain your beans.  Once beef is browned on both sides (don't overcook or it gets chewy and tough!), toss in the beans.  When they are warmed through, add in the rice.  I usually add 1 tbsp of cheese to each serving after plating.  Or just let the kids dump what they want on theirs!  I like this just fine without the beef.  The kids like it with chips.  It would also be good on the go wrapped in a tortilla.

This recipe won't win me any awards.  But it is yummy and it saves my sanity.  Maybe it will save yours, one night a week!

(Price-wise this is about $20 for all of us.  I can't buy McDonald's or pizza for that...win win.)

July 24, 2014

All about the garden.

Alternately titled: It's a jungle out there.

Isn't this beautiful?  The model of a perfect garden.  My dream garden, look at those neat rows!  No weeds! Gorgeous greenery!

Does this look like a garden to you? Or a jungle?  I'm not sure what I have constitutes a garden.  

So here's the deal.  It was an emergency.  I took my SIL's seedlings when she went out of town unexpectedly.  I needed my grow light for her plants.  I just stuck everything in there.  Everything.   I know there are tomatoes, and cucumbers and pumpkins.  I know there are peppers and basil somewhere.  I just can't find them.  There is broccoli, which I'm about to yank out because I just cant take the big-ness of them.

The remote view.  I guess it hides the chicken tractor!  I never did get around to planting my bean seeds, I'm a little disappointed about that.  Maybe I still will.  What could it hurt?  Why not add to the crazy?

Our first cucumber haul.  We eat a cucumber a day and we still throw some away.  (Or rather, give them to the chickens.)  No joke, I probably have upwards of 30 cucumbers right now.  And I keep trying to give them away.  The same problem I had with zucchini last year but now it is cucumbers.  Incidentally, no zucchini.  Hm.  Feast or Famine!

I also have several very large pumpkins!  I'm pretty excited about that.  I've never had any success with pumpkins before.  We have also enjoyed lettuce, snow peas, and broccoli from our mangy jungle so far this year.  I am looking forward to tomatoes and peppers, hopefully.  Currently, the peppers seem to be buried under pumpkin leaves and I don't think it has been hot enough for the tomatoes.  Lots of green ones, but no red yet.  I might have to convince my mom to come over and fry up some green ones!

July 23, 2014

Fair Time {Part Four}. The end.

This is the last of the fair-related posts.  I think.  We left off with the Baby Contest on Thursday.

(If you missed the beginning--Part One, Part Two, Part Three.  You know, if you are super-stoked about seeing someone else's fair pics.  Which, I know you are.)

Anyway, happening at almost the same time as the Baby Contest, was the Pedal Pull.  Oh, yes, the Pedal Pull.  Crazy, loud, lots of kids waiting their turn to ride a pedal tractor for the ultimate glory--a large, shiny trophy.  But no worries, no one goes home unhappy here.  Just for trying, you get a free ice cream.  Courtesy of the Young Farmers.
My kids can't wait to give this a shot.  Somehow, though, they get on that tractor--lots of people yelling, announcer talking, there might even be a clip of She Thinks my Tractor's ... playing--and they can't go far.  Even though I guarantee in my driveway, they'd be dragging that weight all over the place.
Seriously, Nicholas and Elizabeth gave it a good shot.  They enjoyed it.  And they enjoyed their ice cream!  Peter was signed up... but seeing he awoke from his stroller nap just before it started, it was a no go.  I wasn't convinced he would do it even in the best of moods.
Grandma and Grandpa came out to watch the evenings events.  It was a great night--fun and relaxing!  We really had the best weather all week, comfortably warm daytimes and cool nights.  We never had to worry about animals in the heat and no one was crying to go home because it was too hot.

So, Friday was the last day...well, officially.  It was animal take-home and the auction.  The auction is a way for the community to support the kids and their projects as well as 4H (a portion of the auction proceeds go back to 4H).
 Jacob looks so young in this photo.  I forget how young he actually is sometimes, he is always keeping right up with the older two.  His first year at auction.  This is right after he went in the arena, it was raining and everyone was wet!

 Patrick was up fifth in line.

 Nathan was something like twenty-fifth....
Jacob was second to last.
 And I don't think he was nervous at all for his first year!  Broilers were done at what seemed like a really early time so off we went to walk the fairgrounds again and have some fair treats.
 We also decided to take in some drag races.

It turned out to be a great night, wet and damp but the rain stopped and it wasn't crowded at all.  A great way to end the fair!