Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween - and Oh, Baby - Am I Exhausted!

Today was a very big day for me. It was a very big day for both of the kids. And, I am so tired.

We bravely attempted to host a little girls party, a little boys party, and for those trick or treating in our neighborhood, a chili feed. With the help of some dear friends and Michele, the parties went really well. Especially the boys.... - watching those little guys dunk their full heads into a tub of water to go for apples was such a sight. This is the time I find myself especially thankful for my childrens' choice of friends. Sensitive, sweet, supportive, encouraging, innocent - I'm just so thankful for this circle of kiddos that have surrounded my kids. I know their friends will change, but for now, I'm feeling really good.

So, tomorrow officially starts the Christmas holiday season for me. Technically, I usually wait until Veterans' Day to pull out the music - and the decorating begins the week of Thanksgiving, but it's all fair game now to think about. In years past, I couldn't wait for this day - this year, I've been so in love with this previous season of fall, I'm sad to see it go. But, only a little.... SO much fun to look forward to....and by the way, in proof of how things are changing, Accuweather shows a possibility of snow by next week - yes, here. Get ready, get set, let's go!

(A little picture commentary: girls - making Halloween sugar cookies, one of Brayden's friends bobbing for an apple, Brayden and Mikayla in costume - Darth Vader and Tinkerbell, and John and Sydney as Darth Vader)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Starbucks "Health" Bars

This is the recipe as I found it when downloading from a sight that supposedly has Starbucks recipes. Do you think they might have got the title wrong?


3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup margarine
1 1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 T vanilla
3 eggs

In large bowl combine above ingredients.


4 cups flour
Mix well. Then add:

12 oz pkg. Nestle's chocolate chunks
12 oz pkg. Nestle's white chocolate chips
8 Heath bars, coarsely chopped

Mix well and spread batter in greased jelly roll pan (15x9). Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

I haven't tried them yet, I'm sure they're delicious, but could probably be renamed:

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Here We Go Again

I now consider myself the expert of area pumpkin patches. I could tell you which has the best playground, pumpkin selection, the wildest hayrides, the best apples, the scariest mazes and the best educational program. And, I'm happy about that, because it means I've really made the best out of celebrating this harvest time.

After such a tumultuous 2004, I think 2005 has been one of our best year's ever. I recently found a quote from Abraham Lincoln that says, "IN THE END, IT'S NOT THE YEARS IN YOUR LIFE THAT COUNT. IT'S THE LIFE IN YOUR YEARS." I love that! I feel like we have infused a lot of "life" into this year by really embracing any opportunity to "celebrate" - be it Fourth of July or Harvest Time. Essentially, that's the whole purpose of this blog - not to necessarily stimulate, educate, or provide a debate forum, but an opportunity to record our family's history. Sorry, if at times, it becomes tedious and boring.

Or, repetitious - as these are more pictures of a pumpkin patch! This time, it was on a field trip with Brayden - and the time with him was priceless. I really sensed based on his constant proximity and cuddliness that he was on "Cloud Nine" having his Mommy's 100% attention. (Well, not really as I had 5 boys to look after, but that's life on field trips...). What follows are pictures of the catapult they use the hurl and smash pumpkins, Brayden on the "Hayflower" - a hay-bale life-size replica of the Mayflower, Brayden with one of their goats - and finally, a gigantic pumpkin grown by the folks who earned the world record a couple of years ago. It was a great day.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words...

First of all, did I get that title quote right? It doesn't sound quite right.

These pictures describe our Saturday- I'll use them to fill you in.

The first picture shows the location of our friends house who have hosted a pumpkin carving/food eating/fiddle listening party for 7 years. Due to home football games and kids being sick, this is the first year we were able to attend. And, judging by the blue sky, we picked a great year - and, don't they have the most beautiful property? (I think I'll go into detail about our history as friends tomorrow).

The second picture shows the kids telling us what kind of carving they'd like.

The third picture indicates the people doing all of the carving work....

Fourth, what Mikayla and Sydney were doing while we worked away....

Finally, the finished project. John and I were proud of ourselves. It was a gorgeous, fun day - made even better by the beautiful drive out to Territorial Road and the tour of our friends new house on the property. We definitely don't want to wait another 7 years to attend again!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I Have to Brag a Little...

I figure bragging is okay if it's about an adult you know and the relationship is through marriage. So, I am going to brag on my brother-in-law, John's twin brother, Jeff.

He and his dear wife, Laura just took their vacation down in Scottsdale. Not at all unusual - unless you plan on participating in a 100 mile marathon while you are there. Yup, my bro is an ultrarunner who has done this phenomenal activity numerous times. However, he's never won the race (even though he's the northwest combined race leader) until this one. Way to go Jeff! Apparently, he lost 8 pounds while running, and eventually only salt came out when he sweated. Pretty wild, eh?

We're proud of him, but can't say we'll be following in his footsteps, unless it's from the cushy passenger seat of a vehicle! Jeff, you're amazing!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Day at the Orchard

Today I got to accompany my daughter to Detering Orchards for their annual pumpkin field trip. The kids picked apples from the tree (Mikayla didn't like hers) - picked out pumpkins only big enough for the kids to carry themselves (the owners know better than to allow their 50 pounder pumpkins to be swooped up for free by mom or dad!), and went through a hay maze. I bought some more Empire and Melrose apples - my new picks. The Empires are the perfect size for kids lunches. We just narrowly escaped the rain - I hope for the same when I do this again next week with Brayden!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Sick Days

Some days, sick days can ruin everything. I remember the first major migraine I ever had was immediately following my bridal shower. As my sister drove me home in a car I threw up in, I thought with doom, what would happen if this occurred on my wedding day? It completely incapicitated me, there would be no, "just bucking it up". Fortunately, it didn't. However, strep throat, to the severest degree did hit when I was on vacation in Aruba. That definitely was bad timing. But, thanks to a wonderful doctor who didn't feel the need to verify with a strep test but immediately set me up with strong antibiotics, only half of the trip was spent in pain.

BUT, some days, sick days can be a blessing in disguise. John started getting an upset stomach Friday night, and I woke up with a similar, but less intense issue the next morning. There went the DUCK game. When you sit on the 8th row, making it all the way up the stairs to the bathroom is an ominous consideration when you have a stomach bug. So, we stayed home and tried unsuccessfully to sell our tickets (oh well...). And, we had an incredibly cozy day. We watched three phenomenal football games, smelled our Tyler Pumpkin Spice candle and had our fireplace burning our new cord of seasoned fir all day. I worked in my holiday planner, looked through catalogs and magazines, and spent a lot of time on the internet. Given, next Saturday involves to social events, perhaps God knew we needed a fun, fall "stay - at - home" day. Sometimes, being sick aint so bad.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Happiest Place on Earth

Here's some pictures of our trip to Disneyland. No matter what I try, I can't seem to allign them correctly, so feel free to rotate your computer.

The picture of Mikayla on her knees occurred before even entering the park on the first day. (See the "reality" part of my anticipation post). Yes, that would be a tantrum. It didn't last long.

The picture of Brayden indicated him reaching 46 inches and being able to go on Indiana Jones as well as many other rides. It was a major victory since we bought special shoes and inserts to achieve this. We also have similar pictures of Mikayla hitting 40 inches, although her victory was bittersweet as she was usually terrified after the rides that this height allowed her.

Other pictures were embraces and greetings with characters -what a treasure to watch the kids so enamored. My favorite moments.

I'll list some things that were surprises beyond what I could anticipate for our trip:

- Apparently everyone else in the world didn't get my memo. October is supposed to be a slow time for Disneyland - instead the weekend we were there nearly met capacity for the park. How dare other people pick this weekend too...

- The "H" trolley does not connect you to Marriott Residence Inn. In fact, it takes you the opposite direction onto the freeway. Fortunately, it does connect you back to Disneyland, so you can wait in line again - and this time take the "J" trolley.

- Fast Passes are AMAZING. When well orchestrated, there never has to be a wait for major attractions. We constantly had someone collecting all 12 of our tickets and entering them for fast passes. Very cool.

- At 27,000 points, I am terrible at Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters. Congrats to Michele and Michael for continuously exceeeding 200,000 points.

- Losing gravity in the Tower of Terror is a thrill I will never forget. I can't get past the idea that if I weren't strapped in, I would have been floating.

- One can get two "I-HAVE-TO-GET-IN-MY-BED-IN-THE-NEXT-5-MINUTES-OR-ELSE-THROW-UP" migraines, sleep them out and still enjoy the majority of a vacation (yes, see the ANTICIPATION post once again...)

- Sitting close enough to the FANTASMIC show in which the water is set on fire will make you toasty warm - and cause a 6 year old to be terrified.

I could go on and on. Way too much fun. I am already trying to list all the things I'd do the same and do different to make the next Disneyland trip even more successful (maybe a "down day" would be a nice idea....can you say, EXHAUSTION?). Praise God for the tremendous time we all had!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Gosh, it feels great to be loved. Thanks for the warm fuzzies, Hollie. I have so much to write about and so little time, so I'll start with Sydney and tonight or tomorrow embark upon details of Disneyland. It was an amazing vacation.

So, our little Sydney joined us at about 6pm last night. She stayed on my lap the whole trip home from Reedsport, outside of taking a walk with John (above picture). She's since then visited Brayden's classroom, met my mom at her house, and is headed to a soccer game that I should be getting ready for but am instead writing this.

She's more than we hoped for. She's absolutely adorable - to watch her run would make anybody smile. She cried when we zipped her into a "porta-crate" (so cool, a crate made out of playpen material, that breaks down to go places), but loves to sleep in it as long as she isn't trapped into it. She loves to chase the kids around the house, chew, and sleep a lot. Get used to her name, she'll be bringing us lots of joy, laughter, and undoubtedly, fun stories. Welcome to the family, Syd!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


The count down with the kids has been going on for more than 45 days. Heaven help the one who counts wrong and repeats a number, because they remember. So, today is the day. By 8pm, we'll be on a plane headed for Disneyland. (Yes, during LOST - one of the only worthy reasons to miss it...)

I have come to realize about myself that I am a major "anticipation" person. I love "looking forward" to things so much. It's at least 50% of the fun for me. Long ago, John realized that if he were to surprise me with a spontaneous night or trip, it would almost sadden me because I would miss out on all of the fun of getting excited about it. He now knows that all he needs to do is mention an idea - or suggest the money is there to be used - if I want to get to work planning for something special. I love that he understands that.

So, in this stage of the vacation, all of the dreams are still waiting to be realized. Nobody is waking up whining, or throwing up after a ride, or dealing with a migraine, or so cranky from being exhausted they are throwing a tantrum in front of The Jungle Cruise..... Of course, my expectations aren't so high that I don't see those as forseeable realities, but for now, I can just be excited for the best.

On Saturday night, Michele and I took a random trip without anyone else to Target. We bought a few clothes, trial size toiletries, and plenty of candy to put everyone over the edge. Of course, we discussed details too. I expect, that in years to come, that will be one of my favorite memories of this whole trip, as we had soooo much to be excited about.

So, here's to being excited - and making the absolute best of reality! Off we go..............

Sunday, October 02, 2005

An Apple a Day....

It's apple season - and around this house that has definitely been apparent. Here's what's been made in the last three weeks:

3 apple pies
- 1 crumble topping with granny smith and fuji
- 1 crumble topping with johnagold
- 1 sour cream apple pie

2 sets of sour cream apple bars

3 batches of fluffy apple dip

1 apple crisp

1 batch of apple cider with mulling spices

(& 12 loaves of zucchini bread... not apples, but I just had to throw that out there to prove why I've been going through a pound of sugar and flour a week!)

Yes, we have been entertaining lots of folks at the house - but it's also just so cozy to bake, bake, bake.... In hindsight, I think a cuisanart purchase three weeks ago would have been helpful for slicing all those apples!

So, what's your favorite apple recipe? And, what's your favorite apple and why? I was very impressed with the Johnagold... I like a tart and crisp apple (so I usually know I won't go wrong with granny smith). This is definitely a domestic post...

Happy autumn baking....