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Archive for September, 2011

sweet success!

Here in Michigan there are SO many fun things to do in the fall.  We have several traditions, and last year we decided to add one . . . picking apples from an orchard.  One problem.  Fall is also the busiest time of year for my man, so it took us longer that I had hoped to find a free afternoon to head to the orchard.  We were too late!  All of the apples had fallen from the trees and were beginning to rot on the ground.  We didn’t bring home any freshly picked apples last fall, so we decided to make sure we went early enough this year.

Last weekend we met up with some friends and had lots of fun actually picking our own apples from the trees.

We’ve been munching on our apples for about 9 days now, I’ve made applesauce twice, and we still have SO many apples left!  I have plans for apple pie with crust from scratch, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.  Hopefully this week.  The little girls and I are headed to another orchard with some other friends in a couple of weeks, so we need to eat what we have to make room for more Michigan fall goodness.

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2nd time around

Want to know something weird?

I’ve been working on the girls’ Halloween costumes, but that’s not the weird part.

Kait wanted to dress as a dog when she was four, and now–totally on her own–Rose has decided on the same costume, but that’s not the weird part either.

I’m fairly certain that Rose is wearing the exact same thing that Kait did when she was 4 years old, but that’s not the weirdest part.

Around here we have a couple of children’s resale shops where you can sell your gently used kids’ clothes when they outgrow them and buy things that others are finished with.  I check out these shops every once in awhile, especially for things like Halloween costumes or snow boots or other things that can be pricey and aren’t going to be used for very long.

Well, when Kait was four and decided that she just HAD to be a dog for Halloween, I looked for a dog costume and didn’t find one.  Instead, we found a cute little bear cub costume at the resale shop that I easily changed into a dog by attaching some dog ears and a tail that I made from felt.  Super easy, super cute and super cheap.  All great things in my book!  Kait was thrilled and had lots of fun that year while collecting my her Halloween treats.  After that year, I must have sold that costume back to the store because I no longer have it.

Fast forward three years and now Rose just HAS to be a dog for Halloween this year.  No problem.  Right?  Well, I went back to the same store on the hunt for another dog costume.  There were a couple of them, a 101 Dalmation style and a couple that were just a bit too small, so what did we find?  AGAIN?

I’m fairly sure that it’s the EXACT SAME costume that Kait wore three years ago.  Rose fell in love immediately when I mentioned that we could turn this cub into a dog.  She asked me one hundred many times each day if I had turned her costume into a dog yet.  She finally wore me down, and I took the time to whip up some more dog ears and a tail.

Can’t see the tail, but it’s there, and Rose is as happy as a clam to wear her costume to school and the library and from door to door in just a few weeks.  Once again, a quick and easy and inexpensive thing to make my girl’s dream come true.

Want to know what Kait is going to be this year?  She made an interesting and somewhat unique choice that begins with these supplies.

Any guesses?

This one requires just a bit more work that turning a cub into a dog, and with any luck, Rose or Pendo will want to use it in a couple of years.

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first day of preschool

I’m still catching up on posting pictures of things that have been happening in our little corner of the world.  I’ve been elbow deep in painting every spare minute for the last 10 days.  We’ve completed a little over half of our painting projects, and I’ve learned just how large our home really is.  In reality, we live in a cozy little space, which I mostly like.

Less space, less stuff.  Less space, less cleaning.  Less space, less opportunity to get away from each other so we are forced to learn to love each other and work well together.

When I’m feeling frustrated about our cozy space, I often remind myself of something G said early in our marriage.  “Love grows best in little spaces.” I don’t know if this is necessarily true, but it makes me feel better when I want a bigger home.  🙂

Anyway, I’ve realized just how large our home is when I’ve had to place painters tape on every corner and remove and repaint every outlet and every square inch of wall space.  I like painting, but I’m getting tired of it, and we are taking today off, probably.  Yes, definitely.  Most likely I will not paint anything today.

So, here are a few pictures from Rose’s first day of preschool.  She went to a different preschool two mornings a week last year.  Now that she’s four and is VERY ready for more directed activity, she is participating in a 3-morning-a-week program.  She LOVES it.  Now that she’s been there since early last week, she has really settled down at home, too.  She’s MUCH more cheerful and cooperative and is a joy to be around again.

She’s already showing much more motivation to learn to write more letters and begin to spell some words . She’s working on drawing more, and I know this program is going to be very good for her.  One of her favorite things about preschool is that she has her own locker.  It doesn’t matter that she has to stand on the very tip of her toes to hang up her jacket and backpack, she does it all by herself and is quite proud of her accomplishment.

Of course Pendo wants to go to school, too, but we’re keeping her home for one more year so we can give her some one-on-one time that’s so rare in our bustling home.

Now off to track down that paintbrush.  Nope, not gonna’ do it.  Need to take a day off.  Probably.

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first fall fun

As much as I’d like to deny it, fall has arrived here in Michigan.  School is in session, and while I welcome the routine of a new school year, I dread the cold weather that I know is just a few weeks away.  For now, though, we will enjoy the fall and all the fun that goes with this beautiful season.

My parents came for a visit last weekend.  It’s been quite awhile since we’ve been able to spend time with them, so we planned to show them a good time with some of the fun activities that happen around here in the fall.

We visited our favorite place for soft pretzels,

looked around a farmer’s market,

and had lots of fun at a local fall attraction.

This place has a HUGE, I mean HUGE, pile of straw bales for kids to explore and jump around on.

There is also a straw maze at the base of this enormous creation.  The girls and I had to all hold hands and feel our way through the maze because it was soooo dark in there.  Next time we’ll bring flashlights.

Pendo made a mustache

and then got buried.  Can you see her little face in there?

Of course we visited the petting zoo area,

and later we enjoyed AMAZING fresh pumpkin doughnuts while we listened to this guy.

Fun times, I tell ya.  Thanks for coming to see us, Nyanya and Babu.  We had lots of fun with you!

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You may or may not have noticed that I haven’t been blogging as much lately.  Mostly because I have little to no energy left at the end of the day when I have a chance to sit down and use the computer.  Life feels like it’s been on fast forward for several weeks, and we’ve been spending lots of energy trying to help our little ones navigate their way through their anger and selfishness strong emotions and lack of self-control. All of this leads to little motivation to edit pictures and blog about our life when I finally have time to relax.

Well, Monday I was having another really challenging day with the little girls and G could tell I was exhausted as soon as he returned from work.  I was about to make dinner when he sent me upstairs to read my latest find from the library while he made dinner.  I had planned a simple breakfast-for-dinner that day because we had just finished a busy weekend (which I will blog about soon).  Anyway, when I came downstairs a little later I couldn’t believe my eyes.

G turned my simple plan for waffles, sausage, and fruit into something beautiful and amazingly delicious. Caramel Apple Waffles–Waffles topped with real freshly whipped cream, a medly of chopped apples in a home-made caramel sauce, chopped peanuts, and a large drizzle of chocolate sauce.  My man is a whiz in the kitchen, and he believes we eat with our eyes first.  This meal was so refreshing for me after a long, difficult day.

Later in the week, G stepped up again and helped me paint our upstairs hallway and the stairway even though he hates painting and it was the last thing he wanted to do on his day off.  Today he spent quite some time crafting the BEST ice cream I have ever had at home.  He picked up a ice cream recipe book while he was taking Kait to her book club this week, and he made The Buckeye State Ice Cream–honeyed peanut ice cream with dark chocolate freckles.  Wow!  You would pay him good money to eat this stuff.

I’m so thankful for my sweet husband.  He’s such a hard worker and makes many sacrifices for me and his little ladies.

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fair enough

Recently there was a community fair not far from us.  It comes every year, and I’ve never made it a priority to go until this year.  The little playgroup that we are part of decided to meet there instead of our regular place and I was excited that we could finally check it out.  I took all three girls in the morning and was a bit nervous because we got rid of our stroller.  We don’t really need  a stroller anymore for daily life, but it would have been nice to have one at the fair.  Anyway, the girls and I, along with the others in the playgroup, had a bunch of fun exploring the farm animals, craft stations, huge tractors and more.  We were only able to go on one ride before we headed home for lunch, so later that day I decided to take Rose back for some one-on-one time.  We had SO much fun together.  She was incredibly excited to return to the fair with only mommy.

After we arrived I realized that it’s important to make sure your camera has a memory card so you can actually take pictures.  Oh well.   At least I had my phone with me, so I could still document our fun.

Rose looked all around at the rides before deciding where to go first.  She was disappointed to learn that she wasn’t quite tall enough for the little roller coaster, but she found other fun things to ride.

We finished our date with a little ice cream and a game.  We played the one where you squirt a stream of water at a target to see who fills up and pops their balloon first.

Rose won the game fair and square and STILL talks about how she beat mommy at the game and how SHE got to win the prize.  Just wait until next year, my Rose.  We’ll have a rematch to see who gets the stuffed moose next time.  🙂

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labor day

So, I’m always a few days (or weeks) behind in posting pictures from things that we’ve been doing.  The next few posts will be like that.

We’ve been anticipating our Labor Day celebration ever since Memorial Day.   On Memorial Day G and his bud B tried making some eastern North Carolina style smoked pork barbeque.  We experienced this amazing food when we lived in Kenya with our friends who grew up in North Carolina.  They smoked and grilled some vinegar based BBQ for us and a few others a couple of years ago.  Well, that began the quest to try it here in Michigan.  Before Memorial Day, the boys researched, bought the meat, smoked it slowly for about 5 hours, and it was great.  BUT . . . they wanted to try again and make it AMAZING.  Thus began the discussion on how to improve the process and the plans for attempting it on Labor Day.

Oh. My.  It was amazing!

I was a bit too late to catch G putting the meat on the grill at 8:00 am.  He refused to let me lift the top of the grill to take a picture.

Just trust me.  The smells wafting out at about 10 am were mouth watering.

Here’s the meat at around 2 pm.

G spent the entire day nursing these coals

and changing the smoking chips (can you tell I don’t know what they are called?) and not letting anyone ahem lift the cover to peek at the meat.

By 5pm, it was ready.  G smoked it allllllllllll day long, and it was soooooo worth it!

I realized too late that I hadn’t actually taken any pictures of our friends or of us enjoying the food, but it was amazing.  I think (don’t tell G) that he has actually switched me from being a southern red sauce BBQ girl to the vinegar based BBQ.  Can’t wait to eat some more leftovers.  Yes, there are plans to do this again and tweak it just a bit more, but this BBQ is practically perfect already.

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