Monday, September 30, 2013

9 Little Things about 9 Years of Marriage

A lot of the good things in marriage are big, but, like many things in life, the beauty and sweetness show up in the little things.

Because I like themes, and we are celebrating anniversary number 9, here are 9 little things that I love about being married to Aaron:

1.  I love that I know just how Aaron likes his coffee; he likes it better the way I make it than the way he does.  As wonderful as it is to be known, I feel like it's just as good to really know another.

2.  I love that Aaron puts my Nalgene water bottle in the refrigerator for me when I leave it laying all over our house.  If I ever can't find it, I just open the fridge, and...BING!...there it is!

3.  I love that Aaron is a good thinker.  I am a fast thinker, but he thinks things through well.  It's safe to say the we balance each other out well in that department.

4.  I love that when we got married, Aaron literally vowed to "serve the crap" out of me.  He has.  He does 95% of the dishes (when I actually do dishes, I say dorky things like, "Hey, look who remembered how to do the dishes!") and washes, dries, and sorts a vast majority of the laundry.

5.  I love that Aaron is a die hard fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves.  Now, if you follow basketball, you know that the Wolves are not that good.  As a matter of fact, they haven't been in the playoffs since 2004...and I feel like teams sometimes accidentally get in the playoffs because the brackets are so big.  You know what that says to me?  Loyalty.  If he is that loyal to a silly basketball team, I know he'll be loyal to me.

That's kind of a joke, because we all know the real reason that Aaron is loyal is because he loves Jesus.

6.  I love that we have figured out a way to maneuver the sticky areas of our marriage.  We gently tease each other.  For example, when I irrationally wanted to keep our landline because it "made me feel like a grown up" and Aaron realized that there was no reasoning with me, he started to occasionally refer to himself as "Aaron the landline" and other such nonsense.  

This works for us.  You might not want to try that :)

7.  I love that Aaron always makes me feel like the funniest, prettiest, and smartest girl in the room.

8.  I love that when we watch sports (I genuinely enjoy watching sports with him...but, I am usually multi-tasking, as I am right now :)), Aaron never gets irritated when I ask him how tall all the players are, where they went to college, what their tattoos are, and if they are nice to the other guys.

9.  I love that when Aaron comes home from work at the end of the day, he doesn't look around the house and ask what I did all day.

And those are the just the little things!

It's been the most amazing 9 years, and I'm beyond grateful and blessed!

Here's to many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many more!

That was 9 manys in case you were counting...I was :)

Linking up with Blair at Wild and Precious!

Friday, September 27, 2013

He Holds All Things Together

When Maggie, Gracie, and I were cooking together yesterday, I noticed a little something.

Do you like how Gracie thinks that she's the one mixing, but I'm the one who is actually holding the mixer and keeping it from coming out of the bowl and making a tremendous mess?

Whenever I do that, I think about how much I live with an illusion of control.

I like to think that I plan fairly well, make decent decisions, and generally don't let things in my life get too crazy.

All of that is an illusion.  

As much as I can think I'm keeping things running smoothly, it's just not true.

When things are going well, and life appears not to have any wacky speed bumps, that's because of God's grace.  Life is under HIS control.

When life is hard and times are trying, that's under HIS control, too.  And we have victory in those difficulties because of God's grace.

God is the one who holds all things together...not me, even if I mistakenly think so.

And sometimes, all it takes is a cutie pie 3 year old attempting to use a mixer to remind me :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

How to Make Supper...Without Losing Your Mind

I love to cook, but I enjoy cooking even more when I'm not rushed and stressed.  

I'm learning how to use my time wisely during the day, so I'm not super rushed at supper time.  

This especially comes in handy when we are having friends over for supper, like we did last night!  I don't like being the stressed out hostess who is running in a million different directions.  I'd much rather be able to focus on my guests.

I think it's equally important to not be stressed while preparing a regular meal for my family.  I want to be able to set the tone for a happy, engaged family meal even before we sit down at the table.

Our menu for last night:

Hawaiian Sloppy Joes (I doubled it)
Apples and Dip (recipe in this post)
Brownies (the winning recipe :))
Jolly Rancher Drink (aka Strawberry Watermelon Walmart Crystal Light drink)

While Maggie and Gracie were coloring at the table after Sesame Street, I chopped and cooked up a pound of bacon, drained it, put it in a bowl and popped it in the fridge.

I zipped up 2 green peppers and 2 red onions in the food processor.  If I make this recipe again, I would use just 1 green pepper and celery in place of the second green pepper.  I would also chop the veggies by hand.  The food processor made really irregularly sized pieces.

I minced 8 cloves of garlic and chopped up fresh ginger to make 2 teaspoons.

Don't be afraid of fresh ginger.  It's really inexpensive and packs a nice flavor punch!

I put 1 pound of ground turkey and 1 pound of ground beef in a big pot and start browning it over medium heat.  When it was cooked about half way, I added the veggies, garlic, and ginger.

Once it's all the way cooked, I let it cool for a bit, then put the cover on the pot and popped it in the fridge next to the bacon.

That probably took 25 or so minutes.  

Now, my morning is free to play with the girls, avoid folding laundry, pay my library know, the usual :)

As I was making PB&Js for lunch, I pulled out an 8 ounce package of lite cream cheese and set it on the counter to soften.

After lunch, Maggie and Gracie helped me make the apple dip!

It's really important to me that the girls know how to cook.  I would think the same thing about boys if we had sons!  We count, talk, work on fine motor skills, talk about nutrition, and more when we cook.  There's a lot of good things that come along with cooking with your kids!

Easy Apple Dip!  Only 3 ingredients: cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla!

All you need for the amazing Apple Dip is:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

I had the girls cream the cream cheese before we added the brown sugar and vanilla.  I feel like that helps prevent lumps.  So, yeah, beat the cream cheese until smooth, add the brown sugar and vanilla and mix until well combined and creamy.  Refrigerate for about an hour before serving to chill.  You can top with chopped peanuts, but I didn't have any on hand.

I put the apple dip in the fridge until supper time.

Then, Maggie and Gracie helped measure the ingredients for the sloppy joe sauce.

I whisked the sauce together and let it sit on the counter for about 45 minutes.  In those 45 minutes, I read books to the girls and got them down for naps.

Around 2:00, I put the meat and veggies (not bacon) in the slow cooker and stirred in the sauce.

I cooked it on high for the first hour and switched it to low until we were ready to eat!

I talked to Aaron on the phone and had some down time until the girls woke up from their naps.

Leah had been asking to make brownies, so I let her make them when she got home from school!

This was her second time making the brownies, and she's getting quite good at it!  She still has questions and I still check to make sure she isn't getting egg shells in or under-measuring an ingredient.

While she was mixing, I was doing up some dishes, making the Jolly Rancher drink (I swear, it tastes just like a watermelon Jolly Rancher!), and slicing the buns.

Around 5:00, I stirred the bacon into the sloppy joes.

Evan and Bri came over a little after 5:00, so I talked to Bri while I cut apples, and she opened the bags of chips.

When Andy and Steph came over, we were pretty much ready to go!

So, there you have it!  That's how I made supper, with talkative kids underfoot, without losing my mind!

Now, if only I could be so organized every day...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

That Time We went to KC!

Once upon a time...waaaaaaaaaaay back in July, we went to Kansas City to visit our friends, Ryan and Becca!

Our summer was so full, that I never got around to writing about our visit!  But, it's super important to me that we remember what a wonderful time we had with our friends, so here it is now :)

My camera was totally on the fritz (I may have accidentally stepped on it before we left), so I didn't get pictures of everything, but here's what I do have!

We left on Friday after breakfast.  The girls did quite well on the drive there!

I had little goody bags for them to spice things up when it got boring.

I brought a bunch of books for the girls to read.  I was actually smart about it, though.  We have several (as in 8-10) books downstairs that I don't really let cycle upstairs.  (we have a ton of books, so we keep a bunch downstairs and rotate through them)  The reason I don't let them upstairs is because they aren't story books.  A lot of the time we read before bed, so books that are mostly search and find or with a million lift a flaps are too long...or undefined in length. 

This does make them perfect for a long car trip!

Gracie is way excited about the Winnie the Pooh lift-a-flap!
We got to KC (or KCMO as all the cool kids say) before supper!  Ryan and Becca have an awesome apartment, which I didn't take pictures of because, you know, the whole camera thing.

Ryan and Becca are the host and hostess with the mostess!  They had all of the meals planned and let us sleep in their room!  We had such a great evening getting to talk with them.  The girls love Ryan and Becca and they are both so great with them!

On Saturday, we headed to the Farmers' Market!

The girls got fancy balloons...

Can you tell it was wildly sunny?
and sno cones!

While they were enjoying the sno cones and kettle corn, I moseyed around a bit and got some amazing bread...

and bought my first macaron!

You know how you read about something and you wonder what all of the hype is about?  I've read about macarons and seen the recipes which are really involved and fussy.  I never understood why someone would go through all of the trouble to make one.

Then, I tried one!

And I understood!  I bought the kitchen scale in large part so I could try making them on my own.

They were amazing!  I made some for Gracie's birthday that weren't quite amazing but decent.  I think I know what I did wrong, though, and I'll have fun trying again :)

Anyway, the girls and Aaron danced to some swing music.  Totally adorable!  You'll have to trust me on that, though, because, you know, the whole camera thing!

That afternoon we went to an amazing children's museum!  It was actually in an old school and it was seriously so cool!

There were probably 8-10 different rooms.

The first room was full of ramps and golf balls!

Then, we went to the farm room!

I think it was my favorite room!  Maggie and Gracie could not get enough of the little carts!  Ryan was the cashier extraordinaire, and, as you can see, Aaron was great with the puppets!

There was a space room, but my camera was on the fritz.  Oh, and about space?  I kind of hate space.  But, that's another story :)

My camera also wasn't working in what was the girls favorite room.  They were literally talking about it a couple of days ago!  It was a room divided into 2 parts:  one was a baby nursery and the other was a vet clinic.  There were dolls and stuffed animals and x-rays and clip boards and doctor coats and etc., etc., etc.!  It was so, so cool!

We had a blast in the art room...

and after a long stint in there, we headed to what was the school's gym.

There was a submarine built largely out of legos!

A lego toilet and a lego microwave with popcorn!

They loved it!

On an unrelated side note, did you notice Leah and Maggie's braids?  Becca is a french braiding machine!

Right outside of the submarine, there was an area filled with big blocks!

They built their little hearts out!

The day was filled with so much fun, as evidenced by Gracie falling asleep in the car  :)

After the girls were in bed, Becca and I ran out to get some fun ice cream, and then we all settled in to watch a movie.  

And by "watch a movie," I mean that everyone else watched a movie and I fell asleep about 30 minutes in to watching it :)  Also known as "the usual."

We got to go to church with Ryan and Becca on Sunday...which we totally, totally loved!  We even got some Oklahoma Joe's for lunch, went to a park (Aaron and Ryan disc golfed, while all of us girls found a playground), visited Sonic for happy hour (oh, the ice!!!), and just enjoyed being together.

Oh, and the girls ALL reeeeeally enjoyed helping Becca in the kitchen...

it's amazing that she's able to cook without them there ;)

We left on Monday morning for the eternal drive home.  I may have almost started crying when an innocent fly got into the minivan which caused Gracie to freak.out. every single time she laid eyes on it.

We stopped for a bathroom break in the middle of nowhere and I told Aaron (with crazy eyes), "I don't care what you do, but you have to get that thing out of here."

But, I mean, aside from that and seeing every ear of corn in the midwest, it was a decent drive ;)

Thanks for an awesome visit, Ryan and Becca!  If only KC wasn't so far away...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Root Beer Floats...Immersion Blender Style

I'd like to introduce you to my buddy, the immersion blender!

I wanted to make root beer floats instead of shakes for our movie night.

But, then I realized that if I gave the girls root beer floats, they would drink the root beer which would leave ice cream in the bottom of their cups.  Then, they'd want to get the ice cream out of the cup, which would probably lead to sticking their hands in the cups and some eventual spilling on the couch and their pajamas.

Then, someone might end up crying.

So, for the sake of crying prevention, I decided to blend the floats!

I just used root beer, ice cream, and the immersion blender.

I scooped ice cream into a mug and topped it with root beer.

Then, I stuck the immersion blender in the mug and zipped it all up!

You could totally do this in a regular blender, but they are more of a pain to clean.

See how pretty it is all blended up!

I poured the blended float into the little girl cute cup

I feel like you can almost see a smiley face in there :)
and screwed on the cover!


It worked like a charm!  They loved the blended float, and there wasn't any crying!

That's always a win in my book :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Take a Hike...we did :)

While I was sharing about the fun Cable Car Craft on Friday, I mentioned that we went on a family hike!

When you read that on Friday, you probably thought to yourself, "I wish I could see some pictures of that hike!"

I am here.  For you.  With pictures.

You're welcome ;)

We climbed up a ton of steps!

Took a little break, of course.

We made it to the top and saw lots of beautiful farmland...

and an Amish guy driving a buggy!

Are you allowed to call Amish guys...guys?  Or are you supposed to say fellows or men or young bucks or dudes?

Definitely not dudes.

Anyway, I'll never get tired of seeing Amish people.

Maggie also found a grasshopper!

You're dying for a close up.

We tried to get him to hop, but he moseyed down between the cracks instead.


We walked around a bit, too!

Maggie wanted to be a monument :)

Leah (and Gracie, but she didn't want her picture taken) crawled through a crevice!

Look what Maggie found!

And at the very end...

a sweet picture of the sisters!

I hope your day is great!  We are going to a carnival at Maggie's school, so you know we'll be having fun  :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Cable Car Craft

Last weekend, I broke out a craft for the girls!

We didn't have any actual plans on Saturday, so I figured a little activity would prevent fighting give us something fun to do!

Lest you think that I'm super crafty all on my own, I assure you that I am not.  I got this out of the October 2013 issue of Parents magazine.  

craft with cardboard box

I love that this craft uses pretty much just found need to rush out and buy anything!

You start out with an old cracker box.

Then you cut out a window on both sides.

I wanted to have the girls paint all at the same time, but I could only find 1 brush!  I also decided to let them each use 1 color.  

You can still see some of the print on the boxes through the paint, but that's totally not a big deal.

They each did their painting and then we went on a family hike and resumed the crafting after naps.  

I wanted to make sure that paint was good and dry!

Before we started making them all pretty, I hot glued a straw on top.

You can use any old straw you have.  I just happened to have cute ones that I got as a gift.

For the decorating, I pulled out my washi tape and basic stickers.

I let them use whatever they wanted to use!

Gracie came up with the whole star on a circle thing by herself.

I was quite impressed!

Leah did all the taping and sticking by herself!

Once the decorating was done, we strung yarn through the straw and found a place to run the yarn.

That was the hard part.

I taped yarn to the wall.  That wasn't real sturdy and came off the wall easily.

I tied yarn between two lamps for Leah's.  You can see the lamp on the left.  

That was sturdier than Maggie's.

The best yarn supporters were, far and away, the tall chairs.

Gracie even set up 2 little areas for her Dollar Store Piggy!

That's Piggy's house (made from a Sonic drink tray) on the left, a nice transporting photo in the middle, and the stable on the right.

Or as Gracie said, "The fun place!"

If you want to make your house "the fun place," this weekend, cable car crafts are the way to do it!

I'm linking up with Abbie at Five Days Five Ways!