Friday, October 31, 2008

My Family

As a soldier in Iraq, I find that each day hinges on when I can communicate with my family. I have to say that I am very fortunate because of modern technology. I can speak with my family on the phone, via computer, iChat, Skype, and via IM. I can only imagine what happened decades ago as servicemembers wrote and waited for mail. There certainly wasn't opportunity as there is today.

My family means so much to me (as does everyone else's) and I just want to express that in a few brief words. You (my family) bring me peace, joy, happines, excitement and promise. You are my accomplisment of which I am most proud. I find it very hard to have to wait another 2+ months to be able to hold you again, but I take courage in the fact that we are already 1/3 done :) I made a collage of our pictures and wanted you to see how awesome it is. I Love you so much!

Pumpkin Carving

I think my kids favorite family tradition of the year is pumpkin carving. (A close second is probably making sand tart cut-out Christmas cookies.)  They love the designing involved.  They loves knives and they love fire.  So it's pretty much the greatest.

You'll have to bear with me because there are ALOT of photos.  I just couldn't bear to leave any out especially since Daniel wasn't here to see all the fun.

We started out with the scooping.
Piper was sure to point out which pumpkin was hers.
After the scooping came everyone's favorite part:  Barfing up the guts.  Why is this so fun?  I'm not sure but it is.  Try it!
Ainsley says she was barfing but it looks more like eating to me.  Maybe she's a puppy.  They do both.
And if you think this game is just for kids?  You're wrong.  My Dad couldn't wait to get in on this game.  He told the kids, "Look at the Master, watch and learn."
Piper did NOT like Papaw's new look.  She stood there very concerned and said, "Papaw chin, Papaw, chin"
After all the barfing - we laughed and laughed.
Then we actually got around to some cutting.
We admired our works of art, each behind their own design.
A close up.
Then we used fire - and we watched them glow.  We put them on the porch and let them burn all night til their candles went out.
Happy Halloween!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


We made homemade applesauce 2 weeks ago.  We went to a big farmers market and found a half bushel of apples for under $9.  We used a mix of jonagolds (sweet) and stamen winesap (tart) apples. The best part was that my mom had had dinner with a friend the night before and when she found out we were making applesauce the next day she let us borrow her "Victorio Grinder".  We didn't have to peel or core the apples.  We just cut them in quarters and started cooking them in a little water.  We added a bit of sugar and let everything cook down. 
When it was cooked to mush, we poured the whole pot full of mush, peels, seeds etc in the funnel of the grinder.  We took turns turning the crank.
It was kinda rough in spots.  I think I better start working out!
As the mush runs through the grinder, the peels and seeds go one way and the sauce squeezes thru the holes and drips down the ramp into the pan.
Then we ladled the sauce into our jars and put them in a water bath.
Oh the smell was heavenly.  I couldn't get enough!!
Aren't they beautiful?  And sooo tasty!  It really wasn't so hard.  We made 19 pints.  Couldn't buy 19 jars of applesauce at the store for $10.  And oh the taste is unbeatable!   I need to have the confidence to do this when my mom isn't here.  And I think I definitely need a Victorio Grinder.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

3 Sundays Down - 11 More to Go

Dan has actually been gone 4 Sundays but I won't count General Conference Sunday because I didn't have to get the kids ready and out the door early. 

This was the first Sunday.  My parents were out of town and I had to get everyone up and ready all by myself.  We made it.  MacGregor looks like he just woke up.  Ainsley's hair is hurtin a little, but we were seated before the meeting started (at 8:30 AM).  

M and J take one child each Saturday night to their house to spend the night and have some one on one attention.  What a blessing they are!  This was Chase's night and that's why he is not in the picture.  I forgot to take pictures the other two weeks but we are making it.  It is hard!!  But we make our best effort.

Big Kiss Little Hug

Everyone in our family is a huge "Nacho Libre" fan.    There is a part in the movie where Nacho writes a letter to the nun that he likes.  At the end of the letter he puts a series of big and little Xs and Os.  As the narrator reads the letter he says, "Big kiss, little kiss, little hug, Big hug, according to the size of the X or O." 
 MacGregor wrote this at the bottom of the last letter he sent Daniel.
Good thing he included a key.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Mom used the curling iron on Piper.  She wasn't thrilled when she touched her warm hair. "HOT" she said.

She got new jammies.  Cow jammies.  She likes to moo when she puts these on.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Two weeks ago I took all the kids to our local theatre.  The same one we had taken the boys to see Oklahoma.   They feature family shows 3 or 4 times a year.  They usually just pop in for a weekend.  So on Friday Oct. 10th the kids and I ate an early dinner, ran over to the school where they were having a fall festival, stayed there 25 minutes - enough time to try all the yummy food, then raced downtown to the theatre.

This show was called BAM Percussion - The Blue Barrel Show.  It is a comedy/percussion show.  They guys don't use any real words - only funny noises and facial expressions but yet their points are crystal clear.  Sitting next to Chase and hearing him giggle out loud was the best part for me.  I love percussion.  I love hearing it in a parade or half time show.  The drumming was awesome.!! I was a little nervous to bring Piper but didn't feel like paying another babysitter so we brought her.  She did fantastic.  She LOVED it!!

After the show we saw some friends in the lobby.  One of the daughters took Ainsley to meet the actors and get them to autograph her card.  She walked back over to me shaking her head.  The friends daughter was excited and said - We got an autograph from ALL of them.  Ainsley looked up at me with her eyebrows down and said quite sternly, "Why did he scribble on it?"  He scribbled on my card!"  I had to laugh.  One of the autographs did look an awful lot like scribble.  When you are in Kindergarten you know what it looks like to write a name and that didn't resemble anything she was learning.

You can check out this short U-Tube video to see a little bit of the show.  I you don't have time to watch the hole 5 mins.  Fast forward to about the 4 min mark.  It was sooo fun!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fossil Hunting

I know I am way behind in posts and I finally downloaded the newest pictures on my camera so maybe I'll have some time this weekend to get caught up.

I'll start with our Cub Scout field trip to a fossil pit.  Our stake organized a stake wide field trip to Swatara State Park on Saturday, October 11th.  Typically this geologist does this presentation for Cub Scouts on Sundays.  Our stake wanted a really good turn out since he was making an exception and doing it on a Saturday for us.  We had a good turn out - our ward had 4 carloads.  It was for families which was a good thing because I had to take my girls.  I also took two other scouts whose families couldn't make it, so I had a full car for an hour ride each way.

We listened to the presentation while we sat on this big mountain of sliding stones.  The geologists told us what to look for and how to break open the rocks to find fossils.  He told us about the different kinds of rocks, how fossils were formed,  and what a geologist does.   
Much to the parents chagrin the boys were climbing to the top of this hill.  The problem was that when they came sliding down it and were scraped and cut by all the falling rocks - they seemed surprised and angry that they were hurt.  Do they not realize that parents know what they're talking about?
Ainsley thought it was so fun.  She had a great time brushing her rocks clean with an old tooth brush.
Piper got in on it too.  She vacillated between brushing her rocks, trying to walk half way up the hill of sliding rocks and finding mud puddles.  She enjoyed it though. 
Mostly she just looked cute!
We found some great fossils.  Here's one  I found for Ainsley.  She cleaned it up for me.  You can see the worm thing on the left and a shell in the middle.
I had a good time too.  It was a long day but I enjoyed being outside in the countryside.  I look happy - right?

 The weather was perfect - low 70s and sunny.  In the beautiful rolling (mini) mountains with all the changing colors of the leaves.  It was gorgeous.  I feel so lucky to be so close to such beautiful places.  Chase and I tried to get a few pictures of the changing colors from the car on our drive home.  The pictures really don't do it justice.
MacGregor received his Geology belt loop at pack meeting last night. Yay!