Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Giving Thanks

We have nothing but thanks for time spent with family this past weekend. Now that my sister Grace and family live in Pella, we don't have far to drive to see either side of the family. Thanksgiving day was spent with Dan's family and Friday and Saturday were spent with mine. 

I took pictures while with my family to share with those who were not there with us. My parents spent Thanksgiving at home in Neerlandia and my younger sister Rachel was home in Houston. Here is a recap for you all.

David expertly fried the turkeys again and they were very tasty! Just ask Rebecca and Joanna who tried to clean up the bones.

We all sat down to enjoy a delicious meal of all our Thanksgiving favorites.

We always attempt a group photo and it turned out great!

On Saturday we went for a bowling outing and had a really good time. Kudos to Tonya for the high score and to Grace who just managed to out score the little kids :)

Another great Thanksgiving of time spent with the ones we love the most.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Young House Love-ing it!

First, I must tell you how awesome my younger sister Rachel is - I LOVE YOU! 
She was so great to "bring" me to a book signing of my favorite online friends, John and Sherry over at Young House Love. I've been reading their blog for many years now and feel like I know them personally (not in a "creepy stalker" kind of way, but in a "I love how you over share about your life" kind of way). John and Sherry work together to write a blog about their everyday life of making their home beautiful. I read their blog just about every day and it always makes me smile and want to make my home more beautiful too. They have inspired me to do many little projects around the house as well as the big project of redoing our kitchen. They just released their first book, and a book signing would be an awesome way to turn our virtual friendship into something physical. But sadly, the closest signing was over 4 hours away. So I tempted Rachel with the idea of going to the signing in Houston (since she conveniently lives there now) so I could live vicariously through her. And she did it for me!!

Hold on, this is AWESOME... I am with John and Sherry!! I can hardly contain my giddiness!
Here's the line in West Elm that Rachel selflessly stood in for over an hour to get a signature and photo opp.
Don't worry, I don't think she was too bored. She might actually have gotten some good ideas to try herself!
She also got to enjoy some tasty Young House Love cookies and cocoa, which she shamelessly sent me a photo of and made me feel even more jealous about her being there.
Oh yeah, and it was John's birthday the day of the signing. The fans in line sang "Happy Birthday" to him  when he and Sherry first came out. And here is his cake from West Elm. (wish West Elm would make me a cake...)
They had a blank book for all the fans to sign. Rachel left her mark for us both!
Thanks for bringing me along Rachel!! I had a great time!! 
Can't wait to get my hands on that book :)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pumpkin Patch

Last Saturday was a perfect day to visit a local pumpkin patch. It's not a super fancy pumpkin patch and has no admission fee (which we like), but it had enough fun things for Rebecca to do. 
Here are a bunch of pictures.
I think this 4 wheeler is a little small of two.
Rebecca on the caterpillar.
Just a little foreshadowing of years to come, I'm sure. 
This is such a great picture of the kids! I need to print and frame it.
We took a tractor ride out to the pumpkin patch and Rebecca picked out the perfect one!

Rebecca in the corn tepee.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Life as we know it...

I am way too overwhelmed with life right now to do a detailed blog post. But for those of you who would like some pictures (aka Grandpa and Grandma), I hope you enjoy these.

Grandparents always know how to load kids with sugar!

Rebecca and cousin Josh on the iPad.


I love how studious Rebecca looks in the background. 
That's all for now. I hope to get some nice fall pictures of the kids at a pumpkin patch tomorrow. We'll see if I have energy for that after school :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rebecca turns 5!

Finally getting to posting about Rebecca's 5th Birthday. Can't believe our little girl is already 5 and a big time kindergartner! Here are some pictures of Rebecca's Beach Party Birthday.

Happy Birthday Rebecca!

Legos were the popular gift for this big girl!
Dan and I made Rebecca a Lego table for her birthday.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Homemade Baby Food

Now that Blake is 6 months old, he wants to eat everything in sight. There are so many opinions about when and what to feed babies, but I try not to get too caught up with all these and just try to keep it simple. My simple guidelines:
#1. Baby needs to eat
#2. Fresh foods are the best.
#3. He better like how it tastes.

I started Blake off with single grain rice cereal and then started adding in a little natural applesauce and banana for flavor. Once he was good at opening his mouth and swallowing I started trying a few new foods. I had some good coupons for baby food and picked out a few that I thought even I would like.

One of the ones I tried was Gerber Organic carrots, apples, and mangoes. Blake loved it so I decided to make my own.

I cut up 2 mangoes, 3 apples, and 6 carrots.

I steamed the fruit and veggies and pureed them in the blender. While blending I added water as needed to get a good consistency. 
There are different ways to freeze baby food. I know many people like to use ice cube trays, which works great. I happen to have found small food containers at the dollar store a long time ago that are about 2oz. I lay the containers out on a cookie sheet, fill them evenly, and freeze.
Once they are frozen, pop the food out of the containers and store in a labeled zip lock bag. One minute in the microwave, and thees are ready to eat. I add baby cereal to all the plain fruits and veggies that I feed Blake. It stretches the food and thickens it up a bit to it is not so runny.
I use this same blend and freeze method for turning leftover foods that we eat into baby food for Blake. Here is left over cheese ravioli with meat sauce and homemade macaroni and cheese. I haven't given these too Blake yet since they are a little more complex than just veggie and fruit, but he will be ready for them soon enough.

Rebecca just had to get in on this last one!

Some more food combinations that are on my to do list are apple, spinach, blueberry and banana berry - combination ideas from Gerber.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Niagara Falls (part 2)

Here is the (much anticipated ;) second half of our vacation to Niagara Falls.

On Thursday morning we decided to drive over Rainbow Bridge and visit the American side of the falls. We did this for 2 reasons. The first and most important, was for Dan to be able to check his voice mail and make some much need phone calls. International calling is not part of our cell phone plan and at 99 cents a minute, we decided that the $3.50 toll charge to cross the bridge was better than a $30+ cell phone bill. While Dan sat under a tree and made a few calls, the kids and I explored the sights (the second reason).
The American Falls in the foreground and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls in the background.
The view from Luna Island looking at the American Falls. Blake is taking his morning nap.
Rebecca found a cool spot up in a tree on Luna Island.

After our time back in the US, we drove back into Canada to the Americana Hotel in Niagara Falls for the Cadet Counselor Convention. Dan has been a Cadet counselor at our church for the past 8 years and is now also on our area's Cadet Counselor Executive Committee. We did not intentionally plan our vacation to Niagara based on the fact that the convention was there. It was a nice coincident, so we decided to sign up for the convention, which was very family friendly.

While at the convention there were workshops and speakers for both the men and women and activities for the kids. Dan did workshops related to leading Cadets, geocaching, and reflector ovens. My workshops were cupcake decorating, card making, and we both took scroll sawing.
I made turtle toppers out of fondant. I will definitely try using fondant for the kids birthdays in the future.
I made a few pretty cards.
Here is Dan scroll sawing. We both did pretty well and will also have to try this again at home.
Rebecca and Blake spent their days playing in the hotel water park, visiting the Niagara Falls zoo, and generally having a lot of fun with the other kids. They both were exhausted in the evening and had a hard time waking up in the morning.

On Friday night we went back to the falls with the Cadet group to watch the fireworks.
The American Falls illuminated.
The Canadian Falls illuminated.
Waiting for fireworks.
Ahh! Worth the wait!
The final thing we did before leaving on Saturday was to play a little bit in the hotel water park as a family. Rebecca is fearless in the water and loved the body slides and tube slides, which she had to go on with an adult.
Rebecca and Dan after the tube slide.
All smiles!
This was Blake's first swimming pool experience and he seemed to like it too.
After leaving Niagara we drove to Jenison, MI and spent the night with friends Cara and Jamie and their adorable kids Owen and Emrey. We finished our drive home on Sunday afternoon. We had a great time and made lots of great memories.