Monday, September 21, 2009


Yes - I turned this...
into THIS...
I've really gotten into canning this fall. I made strawberry jam in August. It was the first time I had canned anything without my mother. She helped me do peach and strawberry jam and also applesauce over the last 2 years. I didn't think I could do it without her - I just wasn't brave enough to do all that work on the chance that I'd do it wrong.

I missed strawberry picking season in June. June was a beast with non-stop baseball, end of year school activities and our trip to Africa. So when I saw strawberries on sale for $1.44/lb in August, I bought 12 pounds. I said, YES I CAN!! I did call a friend over and she helped me. We followed the directions and I called my mom to make sure I was doing it right. The jam came out just delicious.

Since then I have done Salsa - which is the only one I got pictures of so far, and peach jam, also delicious. The jam I did with another friend and I had some great helpers that helped in the cutting up of all the veggies for the salsa. Sure helps to have an extra set of hands in the kitchen and in the case of the peach jam, it sure helped to have a 5 burner stove so we could fit 2 big canner pots on the stove (not my house, I wish).

This Thursday my peach jam friend is coming over and we are going to bottle peaches - a first for both of us. And I bought more ingredients to make more salsa. The salsa goes quick because you eat at least 1/2 a pint in each sitting. I only have 6 more pints and that is certainly NOT going to last through winter. So I better make some more while I can still find big baskets of tomatoes. The first batch of salsa I made I used the tomatoes from our very own back yard. We planted 2 plants this year, another first for us, and did receive quite a bounty. However, we are nearing the end of the season on these little plants and I know I won't get enough off them for another batch of salsa.

Also I used my new attachment for my kitchen-aid to slice some peaches and then I put them on the dehydrator. I got a sandwich baggie full of sliced dried peaches and I tell you - I could nibble on those all day!! I also cut some of the dried peaches and put them in my oatmeal yesterday and it was really delicious.

I hope to use the new attachment again when it's time to do applesauce. I have hope of canning up a few more things before the fall harvest is over!! Hooray for the Harvest!

Here's our very little garden plot. It was some unused area in our back yard landscaping. I planted 2 small 10 inch tall tomato plants and they turned into this giant bush bearing fruit galore.
This bunch of tomatoes took FOREVER to turn red. But they have been sweet and juicy. We eat sliced tomatoes with dinner at least every other day.
Here's Ainsley with some of the very first we picked. At first they came very slowly - one or two every few days, but by the end of August 3/4 of the plant turned red at once and that's when I made the salsa.
Can't wait for applesauce!!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

"What is this Stuff?

Our ward (congregation) uses clear plastic sacrament cups. But this past Sunday we were visiting a small branch near our cabin. They use the pleated paper cups. As I held the sacrament tray and took my water, Piper who was right next to me and who would receive hers momentarily, said (in a NOT very small voice) - and I quote

"What is this stuff?? Ketchup??"

The older ladies sitting behind us started cracking up. I guess she's been to Wendys and Micky Ds just a little too often lately. :)

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Brielle came for a whirlwind visit. We only had 5 full days to pack in a lot of activities and a lot of visits. One of our favorite, but also most exhausting, activity/visits was with our aunt Nantha and her friend Gloria at the beach. Gloria's sister has a house in Wildwood, NJ and we got to stay there for an overnight. Our food and fun was all provided by Nantha and Gloria and we all felt extra special.
Brielle arrived around 2:45 am on Wednesday morning. My grandfather heard I had to pick Brielle up at nearly 1 am and decided that he did NOT want me doing that in the middle of the night by myself, since Dan would not be coming because he had to work the next day and we didn't have room in the car for our whole family and hers. So my grandfather made and paid for Brielle to be brought to my house in an airport limo. I pictured a van, nope she and the kids were picked up at the Baltimore Airport and driven to my house in a stretch limo. (I'm so mad I didn't think to grab my camera and snap a picture with her sitting in it or standing next to it) I set my alarm for 2:30 am but woke up on my own at 2:20. I called her and we talked until she arrived. We got the kids settled and went back to bed.
The morning came early and Brian and Stacy and the kids came to visit about 10:30 AM. We spent the day with them and then packed up for the beach. (On a side note it was Daniel and my 14th wedding anniversary that day but it kind of got left in the wind - we will try to get out to dinner one night soon to celebrate. We did get each other cards and he got me flowers and I gave him chocolate. That was good enough with everything else that was happening) We left for the beach by 8:40 am on Thursday, Aug 20th. Dan had to stay and work so it was just Brielle and me and 7 children. What could be more fun than that, right?
It took nearly 4 hours to get there and we had to drive 2 cars which was a bummer but we made it. Aunt Nantha had called earlier and gotten everyone's order for sandwiches so they were ready when we arrived. We quickly changed everyone, ate lunches, put on sunscreen and headed out to the beach. We got there about 2:30 pm and spent almost 4 hours soaking up sun and salt and sand. Brielle had to leave earlier with her 2 youngest because they needed naps so badly. We had big plans for the boardwalk later that night so we wanted to make sure everyone was happy. Piper, amazingly was doing quite well so I didn't take her back for a nap. I figured since she doesn't eat much that she would probably nap while we all ate dinner.
It was sure hectic at the beach. The boys wanted to be out in the breaking waves. Because Hurricane Bill was moving up the coast the surf was quite rough and currents were strong. The lifeguards were on edge and constantly blowing their whistles to move this way or move that way or come in toward shore. The boys wanted to be in that mix. The big girls wanted to be out in waist deep. They would jump the waves often getting knocked down to their knees. This made me very nervous because I was afraid they would get tumbled and get sucked back with the strong current. The little 3 were eating sand, throwing sand, crying, hungry, in the water, out of the water. It was rough to keep eyes and hands on the shore, the surf and the breakers. Plus the beach was jammed packed and the jersey shore tidal discrepancies are incredibly large. We set up camp a few feet from the surf but an hour later you felt like you had to walk a mile to get from the water back up to the towels or the cooler. I had asked aunt Nantha a question up at the house about our plans for dinner. She said, Oh we'll talk about it at the beach. Then later at the beach I asked her again and she was laughing saying - yeah I thought we'd come to the beach to relax and it would be easier to talk now - NOT. It was so hectic and not very relaxing. Fun but NOT relaxing!
We went back to the house somewhere around 6:20 pm and did assembly line showers in the outside shower. I washed the girls while Brielle dried them and dressed them. We got everyone clean and ate the Dominos pizzas that Gloria and Nantha had ordered for us. By the time we finished eating and cleaned up it was nearly 9pm. (Piper never took that nap I was hoping for but again she wasn't really cranky, thankfully) We headed out to the boardwalk to ride rides. Again we were treated by Aunt Nantha and Gloria. We had to split up because the boys were interested in a whole different set of rides. Gloria took the boys to do big rides while Nantha Brielle and I stuck with the 5 little ones. The little ones had a great time and begged for more when we were all out of tickets. I'm glad we were all out because it was 11:30pm by that time. I got some video at the boardwalk but no stills. You just can't do it all!!
On a scary note, after we rode the carousel we exited together. Piper was not back in her stroller yet and in about 3 seconds time I looked around and didn't see her. I began to panic a little and then I saw Brielle had spotted her watching a neighboring ride. We both ran to her and in THAT quick second Kamden must have thought we walked away and she went to find us. We got back to the group and started counting heads and realized that now we were down Kamden. Again the group started to panic. I stayed with Ainsley, Piper and Aspen. Brielle ran off with Cash in the stroller and Aunt Nantha ran another way. It seemed like hours even though it was only about 5 mins til I saw Aunt Nantha coming back with Cash. I must have said a thousand silent prayers in those 5 mins. I was scared to even ask if they had found her yet but they had. She was walking away from the rides and toward the crowded boardwalk. Luckily there was a couple that saw her and recognized that she shouldn't be alone. They tried to coax her back toward the rides when Brielle found her. The man told Brielle that Kamden was taught well because she wouldn't talk to strangers even though they were trying to ask her if she was lost and if she needed help. (side note - he was heavily pierced and tatooed - I'm not sure I would have talked to him either) But I'm glad that there are more good people in this world than bad no matter what they look like.
Piper finally crashed in the stroller on the way back to the house. We got everyone into bed around midnight or so. I felt bad for Brielle because she was up all night because Aspen was coughing and they were sharing a room. Also Cash was up at like 5 or 6 am and she couldn't let him fuss back to sleep because the house is cooled with window unit airconditioners so no one was allowed to shut their doors. Poor Brielle, she was REALLY exhausted on this trip.
We spent some more time on the beach Friday. From about 11:30 to 2pm. This time the adults didn't use sunscreen. It was sunny but much cooler with a brisk breeze. Hurricane Bill was out to sea causing rough surf and cool breezes. I figured I would put some on after a little while. I wanted to tan a bit and the SPF 50 cream I used the day before had worked amazingly well. I sure didn't look like I had been to the beach. Well Brielle, Nantha and I were sorry later that we hadn't used any. We all had massive sunburn. For me it was my shoulders, Brielle her upper thighs and Nantha her neck and chest. Ouch - but at least I now looked like I had been to the beach. Also poor little Aspen fell asleep in a beach chair and her poor little thigh and part of her belly had been exposed too long and she also felt the effects of a beach sunburn.
We headed back to the house around 2 to shower and pack up. Piper did take a nap this time and after we had a late lunch/dinner (between 3-4 pm) we headed out to the boardwalk one more time for Wildwood T-shirts. Also a treat from Aunt Nantha. The kids had a great time picking out their own colors and pictures even if Brielle had to bite her tongue when Kamden picked out a "princess kitty" for her shirt and Aspen picked "Dora and Boots". When I think of Wildwood, NJ, nothing but Dora and Boots comes to mind... (hahaha) Ainsley got Spongebob - but hey if that's what makes them happy - they will always remember (plus it's written on the shirt) that they got the shirt at the beach. Luckily Piper, Cash and the big boys got shirts that were a bit more beachy.
We didn't end up heading out until about 8pm so we got home around 11:30 pm and were absolutely EXHAUSTED. What a great trip that we can't wait to do again - when the kids are all at least a year older!! :)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

First Day of School 2009

Our lives are so jammed packed with events and special moments and although I am getting them on film, I have not had time, or when I've had the time I've been suffering from "lackawana", to blog about them or catch up on anyone else's blog. So bits and pieces will come I as I can.

August 31st, 2009

The kids started school. Chase is now in 6th grade and has moved up to another school where they change classes every period and have lockers with combinations. He's "Big Time" now. But poor guy has a fever today so he missed his 3rd day of school and most likely will miss tomorrow too. Hope he is able to catch up quick and doesn't feel lost already.
I had to take this first picture showing the flower beds in front of the house. This was the first year we planted annuals in the front flower beds. It added so much color and I loved it yet, I didn't take any pictures all summer.
No more sleeping in til 7:30 or 7:45 as we have done for the last 4 years. Chase now has to catch the bus at 7:40 so he and I have to be up by 6:30 or so. The other kids don't catch the bus til 8:45 so our morning routine seems to go on and on and I'm tired by 9 when they are all finally out the door.
Ainsley started 1st grade with Mr. B. (Beaumont but EVERYONE calls him Mr. B). He's a year older than my Dad and still teaching first grade. I don't know how he does it but he is definitely the favorite. Ainsley wanted him SOO SOO bad and I didn't know what I was going to have to deal with if she didn't get who she hoped for. She had a lot of anxiety issues the end of last year and I was afraid they would start all over if she got someone she didn't know - not that she knew Mr. B all that well, but MacGregor had him for first grade and she thought that sounded good to her too. We have 5 first graders on our street. 4 of them got Mr. B, Ainsley and the 3 boys. The other little girl on the street got a different teacher. So with getting the teacher she wanted and going with so many neighbors, her first days have been fantastic.
Somebody else just HAD to be in the picture.
MacGregor started 4th grade with Ms. Philips. She is a new teacher at his school although she did quite a bit of subbing last year. So far he has been very excited about all the things she has planned and organized for the class. He especially likes the duck call she uses to get the children's attention.
And there they go.
I had great aspirations of all the things I was going to do while I had 3 away all day. I mean 7 hours - I was going to have a spotless house, run errands, sew to my heart's content. NOPE, 7 hours goes much too quickly and I still have a toddler so my schedule isn't quite as free as I was thinking it might be. The house is certainly not spotless, I've only gotten 2 loads of laundry done in 3 days, some errands have been run but I haven't touched my sewing machine yet. (I will say however that I have done my visiting teaching, a primary visit, and managed to go out to lunch with my hubby. Those things were much more difficult last year when Ainsley had half day Kindergarten.

And now they're home.
Didn't she have a great day? I'd love to be that bouncy!
My little slow poke. Last one by a mile off the bus.
Bye Bye Bus. only 179 more days to go.