Sunday, July 26, 2015

Serious Conversations

Kenson to Zeke:  "You know you don't shoot people in the privates if they don't want to be want to be shot in privates." 

Conleigh to Mom:   "Jesus had 12 homeys before he died."

Conleigh to Mom:  "Did God just make flies to bug us?"

Kenson to all of us:  "When I grow up I'm going to buy an RV because I want to be a cowboy."

Zeke to Mom:  " I need some more bubble pollution."

It is a good thing they mske me laugh since the crazy days of the end of summer seem to be upon us.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Happy Birthday, Zeke!

Zeke turned five this week and we celebrated with a whirlwind trip to Minnesota for a visit with the hand surgeon followed by a trip to Norfolk to meet up with D's family.  We are now almost 15 months post original surgery on the hand to toe transfer and everything looks fantastic.  We don't have to visit the hand doctor for a year which means we are just doing yearly follow ups now.  We also stayed with our friends, the Marquis' who live on the edge of Minneapolis.  So fun to visit with them.  And fun for Mom to since I usually end up chit chatting with my friend, Hilary, until the wee hours of the morning.  D's brother was back from Boise this last week so we did our return trip through Norfolk so we could visit with him, his wife, and D's dad and step mom.  Zeke's birthday happened to fall on the day after our doctor's appointment and the day of our Norfolk trip.   Zeke's birthday wishes were 1.  a Power Ranger toy (my kids are obsessed with this show...can you hear the excitement in my voice?  What's not to love about 200+ episodes featuring the same plot, bad acting, and lots of loud fighting noises?) 2.  To decorate his own birthday cake and 3.  A trip to the Lincoln Children's Zoo.  We've accomplished the first two.  I'm hoping the weather cools down so we can fit in #3.

Zeke was quick to point out yesterday that he really didn't feel any different, meaning that 4 feels no different than 5.  I think he was a smidge disappointed.  I am always in awe of people who can write a succinct little passage about their children that seems to sum up so well who they believe their child to be.  I am not good at that at all.  Often on their birthdays, I wish I had a bit better word picture to share that captures them in all their glory and today is no exception.

Zeke is such a character.  It seems like he endears himself to most people, kids and adults alike.  He is persistent and tenacious, unwilling to give up until he feels like he has accomplished what he set out to do.  He is smart as a whip and his ever growing vocabulary impresses me.  He is turning into more of a big brother, one who helps and looks after the smaller one.  With a wrinkle of his nose, his smile is infectious, often done with a twinkle in his eye.  Those rosebud lips that were one of the first things I noticed about him in China are still there, just a bit bigger, on a bit bigger kid.  I think all the time of how so many people would have underestimated him had he stayed in China and that somehow I lucked out on getting to enjoy his presence.

Grandpa Dave and Uncle Daniel playing ladderball while Kenson watched.
Kenson loved being in the thick of the hotly contested games.
Enjoying a bit more ladderball

Sprinler and ball fun with Uncle Daniel and Aunt Tiffany

More sprinklers, less ball

This may have been right before Daniel accidentally nailed Zeke in the head with the ball
which meant lots of tears from an overtired kid.

This was some type of wrestling match...we'll leave it at that.

Enjoying some goodies from Grandma and Grandpa

Grandma and Grandpa got a cake and so did Mom and Dad so Zeke got two cakes.
The shark cake definitely was perfect.
Great Uncle Larry and Great Aunt Sandy plus cousin Colby joined us for supper and cake.

Since Zeke wanted to decorate his own cake, cake #2 made it back home for that event.
(Saved Mom from having to back another cake...phew!)
Zeke wanted to decorate himself originally but he ended up asking Dad to do the artwork.
We ended up having our friend,s, Luke and Gabe, over as their mom and dad needed a sitter
so cake #2 was shared with friends.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Summertime Favorites

Easiest summer water activity ever:  cup of water, an old paintbrush, and some cement.
So many pictures to make, so little time!
I used to do this when I taught first grade as part of our unit on the sun.
It is a great introduction to the sun as a heat source, that the sun has the power to evaporate water.
So not only is fun but it's educational.

Best "it's too hot to play outside" activity:  blanket forts.
They filled the whole family room.
And best part?  They actually picked it all up!
Best activity to teach your little brother:  bug hunting.
Zeke loves to hunt for bugs and is always turning over rocks and digging in the dirt to find them.
He showed Kai how to tip over the edgers by our mailbox and Kai is hooked.
Hearing Kai shriek and laugh over the ants is always smile inducing.

Favorite flower #1:  Zinnias

Favorite flower #2:  the butterfly bush

Favorite flower #4:  Gigantic  hostas
These hostas are Guacamole Hostas and they have huge leaves and fragrant flowers which is unusual for hostas.

Favorite flower #5:  Hydrangeas
I love hydrangeas and have 4 different kinds along our front.
These Annabelle Hydrangeas are one of my favorites because they produce huge mopheads
and because they grow on new growth so you don't have to protect them during the winter.
This flower was easily bigger than Kai's head.

Best summertime meal:  Brinner or brunch
French toast, pancakes and breakfast casseroles-we've had them all.
One of my favorite things to serve with pancakes is homemade syrup.
My kids love syrup so I am surprised that they prefer homemade to store bought but they do.
They always ask, "With homemade syrup?"
The recipe is below.

  • Homemade Pancake Syrup  (adapted from

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter, salted or unsalted, well chilled cut into 8 pats.
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

  • Stir the water and brown sugar together in a heavy-bottomed 2 to 2½ quart saucepan with high sides. Place the pan over medium high heat and stir until the sugar is melted and the mixture comes to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and allow it to boil for 4 minutes. When the time is up, gently drop one pat of butter into the mixture and stir until the butter is melted completely. Repeat the process with one pat of butter at a time, until all the butter has been melted and incorporated. Remove the pan from the heat. If using the extract, add it and stir it in now. Take care, as it will bubble up enthusiastically.  Let cool for 5 minutes or so before serving.  You can store any leftovers in a Mason jar in your fridge.  (I have also made this with less butter and it still tastes delicious.)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Boys Bathroom Reveal

This winter, we started on the task of finishing our unfinished basement.   We had tried to think through how to arrange kids and bedrooms upstairs but with only two small bedrooms available for four kids, the space upstairs just didn't seem big enough.  I have one kiddo who has trouble with sleep and that kiddo needs to not share a room.  We tried all three of the big kids in one room for a bit but that required a trundle bed and once the trundle was out, the room was completely filled and there wasn't even any room to walk.  Once it is completely finished, our basement will have a storage space, a large walk in closet just off of the family room, a family room, a bathroom, two large bedrooms with egress windows, and one small (and I mean small) bedroom/storage space that really isn't a bedroom since it doesn't have a window but could be used as one in a pinch.  We framed and drywalled all of the space so the rooms are partitioned out but we only completely finished the family room and adjoining closet, one of the large bedrooms, and the bathroom.  Our contractor worked through most of December and January so we've actually been using the space for quite a while.  But it's been kind of hodge podged together, since soccer started pretty much right after that.  things kind of stalled with nothing on the walls and things not quite put all the way away.  We are still working on parts of it this summer but are getting closer to having things all in order.

Aside from painting the doors, the bathroom is the first room to be fully competed.  The bathroom is basically the boys' bathroom.   (Which means it smells icky and may or may not have a flushed toilet.)  We used yellow, grey, and white as the main colors.

I really like the double pedestal sinks.
I love how sleek and modern they look compared to a traditional pedestal.
We debated if we would rather do vanities
but it seemed like there wasn't a good way to get a double vanity in and still have enough room for storage near the door.
The lights above are actually outdoor lights.  Bathroom #2 with an outdoor fixture above the sink.

Super Heroes...perfect for my oldest who loves them all.

This little cubby is one of my favorite parts of the room.
It utilizes that wasted space that houses the shower pipes and is made from just drywall and white shelving.

Truth...toothpaste globs on the shelves.
The enamel bowls are part of a set a found at an antique store quite a while ago.
(I have them in green, blue, and orange too.  They are such vivid colors with just the right amount of chippy appeal.)