Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Summer friends

We recently got to see some of my very favorite people in the world. We drove up to Michigan for a weekend with friends, then my aunt and cousins visited from Nebraska, and later my mom and stepdad came to play for a week. There are so many photos from the past few weeks, I'll have to do a second post after this one. Summer has been really good to us. We love the warmth, and we love how easy it is to put on flip flops and get outside with the three boys.

In Michigan, we visited our friends Ruth and Jake, their son Joel, and their twin babies Jack and Chloe. It had been two years since we'd seen them (and we hadn't met the twins yet), so we had so much to catch up on!

Sweet little twins!

"Look how strong I am, Mommy! It's cause I do a lot of push-ups and eat a lot of meat."

The boys with baby Jack.

Steve and his new best pal Roxie.

We had to try some of Grand Rapids' best donuts!

Ruth and Jake took us to the beach in Grand Haven. It was a very crowded day, but that didn't stop us from enjoying every second of being at Lake Michigan.

My sweetheart! 

Digging holes and making water tunnels.

Sandy and happy!

Cutest little chair on the beach!

Thankful for this girl and her love and hospitality!

We had to stop for some ice cream on our way out of Grand Haven. :)

Ephraim loved playing with baby Jack!

All six kids on the couch! :) 

When we got home from Michigan, my Aunt Tina, cousin Katie, and Katie's sons Donovan and Liam drove out from Nebraska!

Katie taught August how to stomp in puddles. ;)

Ice cream, all around!

This melted all over my hand 5 seconds later :) It was so hot, Ephraim's face and hands and shirt were soaked with chocolate ice cream.

We took them to see our new house. How many people can fit inside our closet-sized, pink-tiled bathroom?

We had the best time, and soon enough, our company headed off toward Chicago.

Five boy cousins!

August and Aunt Tina share a birthday (1-6), so I got a photo of the birthday buddies together!

Aunt Tina & me
Our van's AC went out, so we had some really sweaty days. Here, August had fallen asleep in the car and I moved him to his crib. He was so pink!

I made chia seed pudding bowls... and I love how healthy and tasty they are (especially with a big serving of fruit on top!)

The day that Tina and Katie left, my mom and Don came! This was also the same day that Steve flew to San Antonio for a conference. Busy! Mormor and Papa Don took us to the Olive Garden right by our house, and it was delicious, of course!

Filled up on breadsticks and raspberry lemonade :)

 The next day, we went to the Children's Museum. We had a blast! We saw the awesome superhero exhibit with costumes from different movies.

Loved seeing the Batmobile!

Nolan and Ephraim could have stayed in the Hot Wheels exhibit all day. It was very cool.

Watching trains. August says "Car! Car!" for all vehicles right now. :)

And he loved the big water table!

I'll get a post up soon with the rest,

Hope you're enjoying today!


Saturday, June 30, 2018

American Flag Cookie

I made this giant sugar cookie last year for the Fourth of July, and I knew I had to bring it back again this year! It's not too difficult, it makes a beautiful patriotic statement, and the cream cheese frosting puts it over the top! You. Will. Love. It.

2 sticks + 1 stick butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup + 3 cups powdered sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract + 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
2  1/2 cups flour
2  1/2 tsp baking soda
2  1/2 tsp cream of tartar
8 ounce package cream cheese

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Cream two sticks of butter with 1/3 cup sugar until fluffy. Then add 1 cup of powdered sugar.

Mix in the egg, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and 1/4 tsp almond extract. Beat well.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar, and then add it to your wet ingredients.  Pat the dough into the cookie sheet, leaving 1/2 inch margins.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, and let it cool.

For the frosting, beat cream cheese, 1 stick of butter, 3 cups powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. Spread over the cookie.

Add blueberries and strawberries in the flag pattern, as shown! (I bought 2 pounds of strawberries and 2 small containers of blueberries and had plenty to make the flag.)

Chill in the refrigerator.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Strawberry fields forever

This has been quite the month so far! This was actually supposed to be the non-busy part of the month, but our lives have been very full the past few weeks. I think this is one of those times where God is really at work, guiding us and directing our decisions, and we will look back and just say, "Wow." We feel really blessed.

 One of my favorite things to do in the summer is pick berries. We found a really nice U-Pick strawberry patch, and we had a great time! We came home with nine pounds of strawberries, and we very much enjoyed eating them.

One son couldn't get over how hot it was, one son picked berries with gusto, and one son picked leaves from his stroller :)

Our haul.

Home Depot had another kids' workshop, and Nolan and Ephraim built little classic cars.

A friend gave me a recipe for chocolate bars using only three ingredients: coconut oil, cocoa, and real maple syrup. I'm addicted now!

That's a new way to find Waldo.


I gave Ephraim a haircut, and all of a sudden, he was blonde again! ;)

I didn't get any pictures of them at VBS, but they had a really great week at an outdoor VBS with their cousins.

 August found a little spot for himself on the back patio. :)

Two weeks ago, we drove out to Pennsylvania to spend the weekend with our parents and friends.

While at my mom's house, I found this note for me on the mirror.

Inside, Nolan had taped a Dove candy! And then he promptly asked if I wanted to share it with him ;)

I was glad to be with my mom on the 40th anniversary of my mom and dad's wedding. We miss that big guy!

We got to spend some time with our Ivy girl! She just had her 9th birthday, and she seems to be doing really well with Steve's parents. We miss her very much, but still know that it was best for her to stay home in PA.

We bought our favorite donuts to take with us on our road trip back to Indiana. To my PA friends: I had never tried the powdered-sugar-chocolate-filled one before, and it was extremely delicious!

Happy to be back home (and bathed) after a day in the car.

The cutest little Aldi shopper!

"Wait up, guys!"

 On the 13th, Steve and I celebrated our ninth anniversary!

Our sister-in-law Dana watched the boys for a couple of hours so we could go out to dinner. It had been since our 7th anniversary that we have been alone at a restaurant! Dinner was so nice and peaceful. Our burgers were amazing, and those fries were something to write home about!

Nine of the best years!!

I figured out that we get Cubs baseball on WGN, so we have been enjoying some games!

Last Friday, Steve and I closed on our new house. We are first-time homeowners! 

We met the lady who sold us the house, and she is 90-ish-years-old. She can remember watching the house being built in 1953, and she lived there for 64 years. She and her late husband raised five babies in the house. Now, she's moved to a retirement home just across the street, so I hope to get to know her better.

Friday night, we invited our family over to come see it, and we shared a pizza as our first meal in the house :)  We're not planning on moving in until August, so we've got some time to put paint and sand and make it our own.


Saturday, we started taking down wallpaper! The walls are plywood underneath, and that wallpaper has been there a long, long time.

August wants to do everything big brothers do. I was just taking a photo of Ephraim, but A plopped himself down right next to him. :)

We've been laying off the white flour and white sugar, so I made these blueberry muffins with spelt flour, and they were sweetened with honey and maple syrup. They were so good!

Ice cream snack on a hot, hot day.

We celebrated Father's Day on Sunday, but what Daddy really wanted to do was:

See Incredibles 2! We took the boys on Tuesday, and it was definitely the highlight of the summer for them. They have been talking about the movie and saving their money for weeks and weeks.

And the movie was really good! It's PG, so it's a little unnecessarily scary at times, but the animation and the storyline are very good, and that Jack-Jack is funny!

We brought August around naptime, and I was hoping he'd sleep. He did pretty well, but was a little squirmy. And then when the credits rolled around. . . 

. . . he was out like a light.

When we go to Trader Joe's on Sundays, Nolan always asks if we can buy sunflowers. This week we did, and we've been enjoying their beauty all week.

Hope you have a great weekend!



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