top 15 highlights of summer 2010

I can't believe that summer is at it's end. August signifies the end for me, even though we have two and a half weeks before the kids begin school. Now our focus seems to be on getting backpacks, school supplies, ordering uniforms, new socks and under ware. Last year I took Thomas and Annie out to the store separately to pick out their school supplies and then they got to pick were to eat lunch. We really had fun. I got to spend an afternoon with each of them, by themselves. I watched them ponder which color of folder to pick and which color of pencil sharpener....important decisions, you know. It's really fun to just watch them. They remembered it because Thomas asked me a few weeks ago if he was still going to get to pick where to eat lunch! Last year we went to Red Robin and even shared a chocolate shake in the metal canister with whip cream up to the ceiling!!! It's a fun tradition, some extra one on one time spent with them before they head off to full days of school away from home. (sniffle sniffle)

We have had a fabulous summer if you ask me. I have enjoyed every minute of it. I thought I'd leave this summer with the top 15 hits....
15. Going to the Pine Wood Bowl, laying on the blanket in the grass and watching White Christmas.
14. Summer with the Saints each Wednesday

13. Making all kinds of pie and sharing them with family and friends.

12. Watching the kids run throughout the yard at night, flashlights in hand, catching frogs and toads.

11. The fact that George actually got in the water for swim lessons.

10. TJ finally getting our lawn to look green. The secret.... he found that fertilizing with a unique blend of human poop pellets can make the lawn really green. Lovely.

9. Thomas offering to buy our family dinner with his own money. He chose Chipolte. Watching him take out his wallet, count out the money, and hand it to the cashier, was priceless.

8. TJ planting our nineteenth tree in our yard. Yes, nineteen trees. Well, actually we lost three trees from the rabbits eating off the bark this winter, so that brings us to only sixteen.

7. Filling, tieing, and throwing over 600 water balloons.

6. Watching Thomas play baseball. Having grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousin all cheering him on at his games. Thomas' first attempts at sliding into base. He sure was fun to watch.

5. Thomas and Annie spending the weekend in Norfolk with uncle Jarod and aunt Laura. They got to eat cotton candy, go on roller coaster rides, swim, pick out toys from ShopKo, and go to bed without taking a bath.

4. Picking strawberries and making jam and strawberry rhubarb pie. Watching Evelyn plop herself down in the row and gobble down strawberries.

3. George wearing under ware. Enough said.
2. Aunt Megan visiting us for a week.

1. Evelyn wearing a swim suit.


ordinary days....a fun summer

When people ask me how's your summer going, I say wonderful.

When I hear where are you going this summer, I simply say that we're staying home.

Home. It's a nice word.

We have no grand plans of traveling this year. We have no scheduled vacations. Our summer has been spent staying close to home and doing a lot of...nothing really. We have made some wonderful meals complete with name place cards, have had lots of family and friends over for dinner and playing outside. Catching frogs from our yard has been a highlight many nights.

New baby Clairvaux made her debut to our home at only one week old! How very precious she is. Life is a miracle. We had 15 children running around between our three families.

I'm not a good traveler. The thought of packing, unpacking, planning, riding for hours in a car all make me shiver. And staying in a hotel....well, I'd rather not talk about it. It's not that the kids are unusually difficult....no it's me. It's funny to me because when I was young and competing in gymnastics, we travelled all the time. My first trip was when we drove to South Dakota I think, for a gym meet. I was 9 years old. By myself. By the time I was in 9th grade I had been to Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Missouri, and Iowa, all for gym meets. Flying was fun. I am now terrified to fly.

I was talking with Lindsay's mom, Damaris, the other night. She told us how her mother had 13 children. They had one car. They did not go many places. No one did back then, she said. You stayed at home.

Don't get me wrong, I'd like to see other parts of the world, just not now. Not with small children. One day, yes. But for now, this little nook we live in is just fine.

Uncle Jarod and Aunt Laura offered to have Thomas and Annie come and stay with them for a weekend. They has so much fun. They spent two days swimming, playing and going to a county fair. They will always remember that weekend. Thank you L-O and Jarod.
We've made it a family event each week to watch Thomas play on his first baseball team. Between the Boever's and us, we have by far the biggest cheering section.

The biggest fan of them all. He comes dressed in full gear. Helmet, baseball gloves, bat, ball, and Thomas's old Yankee's jersey. We think he honestly thinks he will get to play each week.

Losing teeth this summer has been a big event. The tooth fairy must be working overtime though, seeing as she forgot to visit us one night. How could she forget?? Maybe she's been staying up too late blogging....

As summer's end is approaching, I realize that there are many things I had wanted to do with my children, but did not get to. The older I get and the more children we have I'm learning that it's not so much what we do or where we go. What is important is that we are together and are enjoying each other as we make memories. I hope they will remember the love we gave them, and the abundant food, family, friends and fun that filled our home.


lemon Meringue Pie.....better known as humble pie

I woke up again early Sunday morning to make a pie. I can't tell you what fun it is to come downstairs to a dark, quiet, kitchen by myself, start a pot of coffee, roll out pie crust, squeeze, peel, chop, mix and then have a pie ready to eat for Sunday dinner. All while everyone is sound asleep upstairs. Try it. You'll love it.

This pie actually began on Saturday. We were having the Willis' over for dinner and I thought I would make a lemon meringue pie for dessert for them, instead of for Sunday. I have never made a lemon meringue pie. Let me first say that when I make something for the first time, it NEVER turns out good. EVER. So why I thought I would try a pie I had never made before for company beats the heck out of me! But anyway, here I am Saturday afternoon just baking away in the kitchen, following the directions, imagining how yummy this pie was going to taste and how I KNEW that Andy and Erin were just going to love my pie. No humility. Even though I had never made it before, I was SURE that since I am an expert pie maker, it would turn out fabulous. You get the picture. No humility whatsoever. Well, that pie turned out to be a disaster. A flop. A culinary mess. It never set in the fridge and was a runny yellow goo. No, I wouldn't be serving our guests a lemon meringue pie. I got it, the lesson on humility....

So, I woke up Sunday morning with more determination than ever to make this pie. Quiet house, coffee brewing, I got everything out again, ready for round two. I read and reread the directions just to make sure I was doing it right. I measured everything right to the line. When I got to the part where the filling is supposed to thicken.....it wasn't. I sat there over the stove for 30 minutes waiting for that sucker to thicken. By then TJ strolls downstairs. In a frustrated plea I asked him what am I doing wrong? He, very nonchalantly says, "this double boiler you made is not working, put the sauce in a pan and heat it that way. It'll thicken." And by golly, he was right. What took me 30 minutes to try and thicken was done in 30 seconds.

He will forever be known to me as the pie man.
The saver of the pie.
My hero.

Quickly return my thoughts that this pie is going to be awesome. Until I get to the meringue part. You have seen how a meringue is supposed to look. All glossy with white fluffy peaks that rise and fall ever so slightly at the top with just the tips all brown....

that was NOT the way mine looked.

After all the time I spent trying to make this pie, I am reminded of a two things:

1. Perseverance
2. Humility

I have to make things over and over and over before getting them right. To keep trying. And to remember that lovely virtue of humility. I can't have perfection, nor should I try to obtain it. It doesn't matter. What matters is that I am making something out of love for my husband, children and friends. It's for them. They don't care how it looks, just that I made them something special to eat.

I need some practice with making the peaks and curls. Mine is peak-less.
The Best Lemon Meringue Pie: (I didn't call it that, it's just the title of the recipe....I swear!)

Single pie crust baked

1 1/4 cups sugar
6 TBS cornstarch
2 cups water
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 TBS butter

3 large egg whites
good pinch of cream of tartar
6 TBS sugar

1. Prepare the crust.
2. To make the filling, combine the sugar and cornstarch in the top of a double boiler. Stir in the water. (Next time I'm taking my husband's advice and just doing it in a sauce pan)
3. In a mixer, beat the yolks and lemon juice until it's light in color. Add to the sugar mixture. Cook until thick. Stir in the butter. Pour into the pie shell and cover the top of the filling with plastic wrap. Cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
4. preheat oven to 350 degrees.
5. To make the meringue, in mixer beat the egg whites until medium peaks form. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat. As the peaks get stiffer, begin to add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the meringue is as sweet as you want it to be. Beat until the meringue is very stiff and glossy but does not look dry.
6. Peel the plastic wrap off the lemon filling. Spoon the meringue over the lemon surface
mounding toward the center and coming all the way to the edges of the crust. Form peaks and curls by flipping the back of the spoon over the surface of the meringue.
7. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes.

And thank you Willis' for the beautiful hand picked flower boquet from your yard. You are so very thoughtful! They make me smile.


giggle giggle

I love to watch you Evelyn. Especially now. You are always looking and watching your brothers and sister. Lately, when they are laughing at something, you have started to giggle right along with them. It appears that you know exactly why they are laughing and think it's funny too. Although you have no idea what they are laughing about, you just chime right in and giggle the most adorable giggle I've ever heard. You are becoming part of their group.


nine years

Today (July 21st) was our ninth wedding anniversary. We celebrated by going to the restaurant where we had our very first date, and the place we go almost every anniversary. We sat at the tiny table together and reminisced about our life when we first met. We talk about the same stories year after year, they never seem to get old (even though we do).

While eating fabulous food of course.....

Nine years later, a loving husband, four beautiful children, one child in heaven, good health, a good job that TJ loves, wonderful family and friends, a beautiful home....we are blessed.

because you asked...

Because my dear friend Jillian asked me a while back if my house was ever messy........

There you go. Messy. Messy. Messy. I'm off to go pick up while everyone naps....well, maybe after I make a stop on the couch first. Yes, a nap is definately needed.


city kids gathering eggs

When Janel asked us if we would mind coming out to their house while they were gone for the week to feed the chickens and collect the eggs, we said sure! I thought it would be fun for the kids to do. And they loved it! My Thomas, who is always thinking, decided to bring gloves....just in case!

Good thing he did because some of the eggs had been pooped on by the chickens! Us city folk had a hard time picking up poopy eggs!!!!

I was impressed with how they got right in there and fed the chickens and then found and gathered up the eggs. I've always been timid around animals. I never grew up having any pets! But Thomas and Annie loved feeding the chickens and trying to pet them. They even saved the duck who had gotten stuck behind a piece of plywood.

They have a beautiful red barn that was just calling me to take pictures of it!!

And George found Joe's trains in the sand and was content just to drive them around the barn.

Thanks for the fun experience Andreasens!