Friday, July 29, 2011

Outdoor Fun and Improvements

Rebecca and I did a little shopping this morning and scored at the DAV thrift store! I love good deals. Just about every time I drive by the store I look in their back fenced area where they keep any patio furniture, bikes, and other outdoor stuff that had been donated. I'm actually on the look out for another small bike for Rebecca since her other one was tragically "killed" when Dan backed over it with the truck. When we drove by the store today we saw a Step 2 Wagon and a Little Tykes picnic table in the back, so of course we had to go back and check it out!

We passed on the picnic table, it was a little too faded and I knew I wouldn't be able to fit it in the car. But I could not pass up the wagon. For Rebecca, it was love at first sight and I didn't mind the near perfect condition and the $24 price tag. Before making our final decision, I checked the value of a new wagon on my phone. Target was selling them for $60.

Rebecca had fun washing it with the hose and then filling it with some animals and pulling it around the yard.

She has also enjoyed playing on her improved playground lately. This main play structure was here when we bought the house and since then we have made a few improvements. We added the swings, slide, canopy, steering wheel, and yellow handles. Here is a (bad) picture of the play area last summer.
Summer 2010
Just this summer Dan (with a little of my help) dug out all the sand that used to be all over the inside of the wood border. I hated walking in the sand and Rebecca didn't like it much either. We build up the sides of the sandbox under the play house and replaced the rest of the sand with playground grade wood chips that we bought a truck load of from a tree service in Des Moines. The other improvement this summer was extending the horizontal bar the swing hung on and made it long enough for 2 swings and added the A frame support on the far side. As you can see, I still need to stain the new wood. I love how great it looks now with the wood chips and it's ready with 2 swings for 2 kids next summer :)
Summer 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


It's been a quiet week on the blog because we were on vacation last week with the Pontier family. It would be impossible to recap everything we did and load all 200 pictures, so I will just give you some of the highlights.
My parents found a rental house near Linn Grove, Iowa. It is a bed and breakfast with a small vineyard and pond. We rented the whole house for the week so the owners left and we were on our own. The house was very large and spacious and beautifully decorated. The house only had 4 bedrooms, but each room was the size of a hotel room with 2 queen beds and a large bathroom with a whirlpool tub. It was a very hot week, so we spent a lot of time swimming, canoeing, and kayaking in the pond. We also when swimming and boating in Storm Lake which was only 25 miles away.

Some other things we enjoyed were inside board games, big family meals, reading and relaxing, and a "corn hole" (beanbag toss) tournament. It was great to spend so much time with family that we only see a few times a year. Can't wait until next time!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Stars and Stripes

I know I'm a little late for July 4th, so you will just have to remember this for next year. Here are some cupcakes I made for a get together with friends last weekend.

Make vanilla cupcakes in red, white, and blue cupcake wrappers. Frost cupcakes with whipped topping (so easy!). Then decorate with fresh blueberries and stripes of strawberry fruit roll-ups. Cutting the fruit roll-ups is a little tricky and sticky, but they are so cute, it's worth it. Enjoy (next year :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Little Moments

I just love this picture! It makes me laugh every time I think about it.

Here is the story behind the picture. Dan bought a semi load of hay from someone and they delivered it to our house. The semi is parked diagonally across our driveway. Dan unloaded the hay bails with his tractor and drove them down the hill to the barn. Rebecca likes to be close to the action and wanted to be out side to watch. I looked outside at her before this and she was watching and riding her bike around while the semi driver was sitting on the step. She then came inside and said she was hot and needed a snack. I gave her a freeze pop and she went back outside. When I looked out at her a second time this is what I saw. She had gotten a chair from the garage and parked herself next to the semi driver to watch too! It's these little moments that can make everyday life special.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Stuffed Shells

This is one of my favorite meals for several reasons:
1. it's so easy and makes about 3 meals worth - love meals in the freezer!
2. my grandma used to make these every time she came to Iowa to visit - good memories!
3. they are delicious - yum!

Stuffed Shells
Prepare a box of large pasta shells according to the box, drain, and rinse with cold water.

Cheese mixture:
2 containers of ricotta cheese (30 oz. total)
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 T. parsley flakes
optional - 1 box frozen spinach, thawed and drained

When shells are cool enough to handle, put a heaping table spoon of cheese mixture into each shell and lay them on a cookie sheet. It should come out pretty even with shells and cheese mixture. I usually end up with a few shells left over because I over stuff mine :)

Freeze the shells on the cookie sheet and then transfer them to a zip lock bag. When you want to enjoy your shells, lay them in a baking dish seam side down (about 3-4 shells per adult) and cover generously with your favorite pasta sauce. Bake shells at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bubble Wrap

I think I might wrap Rebecca in bubble wrap next week and keep her in her bedroom. After a week like this one, I don't think she can handle any more injuries! I know she is only 3 years old, but we've already noticed that Rebecca is not very coordinated and tends to fall down and bang into things a lot. But this week takes the cake.

On Monday night she was at VBS and fell/tripped and landed in such a way that she split open the front of her knee about an inch. It really looked liked it needed stitches, but wanting to avoid the ER, we waited until Tuesday morning to take her in. Her doctor did put 5 stitches in her knee. I won't go into too many details about the procedure, but it was awful for everyone and I've never heard Rebecca scream so much!

She is doing great now and hardly notices that there are stitches in her knee. We have to keep reminding her not to run or crawl on her knee. She gets her stitches out on July 11th.

In addition to stitches on Tuesday, Wednesday she managed to fall down the deck steps and land on the concrete. She scraped up her shoulder, bumped her head, and added another scrape to her knees. On Thursday at VBS again, she was climbing on something and scraped and bruised the under part of her arm. And to top it off, Friday she slammed her thumb in the car door! The scary thing is that all of these injuries were "self-inflicted", she didn't need help from anyone else. We pray she survives childhood!