Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Wishes

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas our family, I am thinking of the simplicity and wonder of that first Christmas. What an expression of God's great love for us, that He would send His Son to be our Savior, our Redeemer.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, full of God's blessings.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Snowy Weather & Warm Hats

We're seeing our first snow today. It started as rain and as the temperature dropped, turned to snow. It's coming down thick and dusting the grass and flower beds, but I'm sure it won't be measurable. Still, the kids were excited to see it. Lillian declared that she wanted to build a little snowman. I think we'll have to wait for that.
Catching snowflakes on their tongues
Just in time for the colder weather, I made the kids each a new fleece hat. I followed this tutorial and added some embellishment to each. To Levi's, I added an embroidered deer head and to Lillian's I added a cluster of flower buttons.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

The last few days have been full of Halloween festivities. Yesterday Levi had his Halloween party at school while Lillian and I went to a Halloween party hosted by one of her friends. They both had a blast and came home with a bag full of goodies and fun things.

Last night, John's parents came over for our annual pumpkin carving. This year the kids were more involved with the process, which makes it even more fun for them.

Shirtless helpers assisting Papa
The family with our pumpkins-
John's on the left, Lillian's in the middle, and Levi's on the right

Our pumpkins all lit up
Today has been filled with Halloween-themed food and low-key fun around the house before we got ready for trick-or-treating. Levi was the Incredible Hulk and Lillian was a butterfly. Unfortunately, the rain didn't make for the best trick-or-treating weather, but the kids enjoyed it.

We also had some fun with an old wig I pulled out of the Halloween costume bin. Even Papa got in on the action.

They ended their night snuggled up watching "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!"


Monday, October 28, 2013

Simple Fall Decorating

I have always enjoyed decorating my house with seasonal touches. However, each season it seems to get harder to do. Life is busy with my little ones and decorating gets pushed to the bottom of the list. This fall was no exception. Just last week, I swapped out some of the more summery decor for some touches of fall.

I know some people are not seasonal decorators. You have your decor and you stick to it year-round. That's fine if it works for you, but it isn't hard to make some changes to get your house "dressed" for a new season.

A lot of it has to do with color. There are definitely colors that come to mind when we think of a particular season. Adding in or swapping things out for more seasonal colors instantly transforms your decor. I don't have a whole lot of "fall" decorations. I do have a few pumpkins and small things that say "Fall" or "Harvest", but other than that, I decorate with fall colors-oranges, browns, rust, gold, etc. Even small additions and changes can make a big difference.

Also, purchasing some small pumpkins and gourds is an easy way to decorate your home this time of year.

What about you? Has fall arrived at your house yet?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

This Year At The Pumpkin Patch

Where has October gone? It seems a blur and now it's almost Halloween. The temperature is dropping so we're pulling out our sweaters, coats, hats, and mittens. There are Christmas decorations already in the stores. I know I'll blink again and it will be Thanksgiving.

Levi is keeping busy at school. He absolutely loves it! I see him learning lots of things and his curiosity seems to grow by the day. He wants to know about things and asks what new words mean, all the while filing it away so he can pull it out later and wow us with his understanding.

Lillian has had the chance to get to know some new friends her age now that Levi is at school three mornings a week. It has also been nice to connect with the moms of these little ones.

This month, we visited a few pumpkin patches. One trip never seems like enough. We went back to Denny's Pumpkins in Independence with my mom a few weeks ago. We came home with pumpkins, squash, and gourds for decoration and eating.

This past weekend we went on the Autumn Drive in McHenry County and ended up at Cody's Farm again. There they enjoyed the pedal tractors, barrel train, goats, and playing in the corn. We also picked our pumpkins for carving.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Step Back In Time

This weekend we headed back to Rock Cut State Park with some of our neighbors to camp and attend a World War II reenactment. Since I was a girl, historical fiction has been my favorite genre of books and World War II has always fascinated me. It was such an interesting time in history. As I lost myself in books, I often wondered what life was really like then. I imagined stepping back in time to see for myself.

Well, arriving at Midway Village Museum for Word War II Days was a lot like stepping back into the 1940's. There were over 1200 reenacters, each depicting different roles of life during the second world war. You could stroll the streets and see soldiers from various armies, nurses, Rosie the Riveters, as well as countless artifacts from the time period. We witnessed battles in the streets, walked through troop encampments in the woods, got up close to antique military vehicles and artifacts, and watched two battles unfold on a field--complete with tanks, military vehicles, and pyrotechnics. It was a lot of fun and something we would like to go back to.

A skirmish between American and German soldiers in the street

Lillian and me with General Field Marshall Rommel

The neighbor kids: Deep, Hannah, Nicole, Pooja, and Frankie
They made the weekend even more fun for my kids.

Levi running a machine gun in a trench

German soldiers preparing to march to battle

Ready for the big battle

So much to see and talk about

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Mexican Creamed Corn (a la Bien Trucha)

Last weekend we celebrated our friend's birthday with dinner at Bien Trucha in Geneva. If you live in the Chicago area and haven't been there, you have to go! It is pretty much the best Mexican food we have ever had...and we've had a lot.

They put a little twist on things by serving things up tapas-style. The only thing better than great Mexican food is sharing great Mexican food. We each ordered different tacos so we got to try four of their tacos. Alongside the tacos, we also ordered rice and corn. The corn was roasted for a delicious sweetness and slightly creamy and cheese. Topped off with a squeeze of lime, it was an awesome side dish.

Tacos are usual meal at our house. They're nothing fancy, but we all enjoy them. This week when we had them, I decided to try to replicate Bien Trucha's corn dish for our side. I looked up a few recipes and then decided to wing it a little. Maybe my version is not exactly like theirs or authentic Mexican, but it was pretty darn good.

Mexican Creamed Corn (a la Bien Trucha)
4 Ears of Corn, husks removed
Vegetable or  Olive Oil Spray
1 Tbsp. Butter
2-3 Tbsp. Mexican Crema (or sour cream)
2-3 Tbsp. Queso Fresco, Crumbled into small pieces
Salt and Chili Powder to Taste
Cilantro, Lime Wedge

Heat grill and oil grates. Spray each ear of corn and place on grill. Turn every 2-3 minutes until cooked and some kernels begin to look browned (about 10-15 min). Cut corn from cob and place in a bowl. Add butter, crema, and cheese and mix well. Add salt and chili powder to your liking. Squeeze on a little fresh lime juice and serve with some fresh cilantro.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Child's Play

Lillian is a busy two-year-old. This summer she gave us fits (literally) as part of the "terrible twos". I know we're not out of the woods, but settling into a more regular routine in the last weeks has seemed to calm her and help lessen the whining and crying.

Lillian was an early talker and speaks well for her age. She says the funniest things and loves to pretend. Another favorite activity, like lots of toddlers her age, is to take things out of the their containers. Thankfully she likes to put them back, so clean-up time goes smoothly. She has started to line things up and spread out her toys. Sometimes she surprises us with the elaborate arrangements she puts together. It makes me smile to see her in action.

A word on these glasses...they started out as sunglasses, but she popped out on of the lens and it got lost. Rather than throwing them away, I popped out the other lens and they became her "glasses". She will wear them the whole day-at home and on the go-like there's nothing unusual about them. It cracks me up!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Off to Preschool!

Levi started preschool this week. Wednesday they had a short orientation day and today we dropped him off for his first regular day. I know all moms say this, but I can't believe he's already four and I'm sending him off the preschool. Part of me wants to keep him home just so I can enjoy him myself, but of course, he'll have lots of fun at preschool and will learn new things and make new friends. I look forward to all the stories he will come home with. Anyone who knows him knows that he'll have a lot to say about it. I don't know where he got that from...

Orientation Day
(That's Lillian in the background sporting her backpack.)
Ready for the first day!
(He looks so much like his dad here.)
I took a short video of him, just to capture a few things about him at this age.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Wedding at the Barn

At the end of July, we traveled to Iowa for my older brother's wedding. He and his fiance had planned an intimate wedding weekend in picturesque northeast Iowa. It was fun to get to spend a whole weekend together and being that it was a small wedding, a lot of the stress of weddings and receptions was left out.

We all stayed together at The Barn on the Bluff in Elkader, Iowa. The setting was gorgeous! The barn is set up well for groups to come and spend time together. The kids immediately loved it there since the barn itself is lots of fun and there were cows in the pasture down the lane. The matron of honor's two little girls, Millie and Alice, were great playmates for the weekend.

The Barn on the Bluff
Our view for the weekend...so peaceful.
Looking at the cows.

A huge cow pillow was a favorite spot to play.
Levi and Lillian with flower girl, Millie.
"Ride 'em, cowgirl!" Lillian loved the rocking horse.

Steffoni swinging with Millie, Alice, and Lillian

Nathan with Millie and Lillian

My mom made beautiful flower arrangements that were placed throughout the barn.

The couple before the rehearsal

Early Saturday morning, we woke up and started getting ready for a very special day. Nathan and Steffoni had planned a ceremony full of love, meaning, and family. I was honored to be a part of it.

A display of family wedding photos

The bride and groom before the ceremony.

Levi and Lillian waiting for the wedding to begin.
"This is Happening" was a phrase coined by Levi that became a funny theme to the wedding.

The ring bearer in action.

The ceremony
Officiated by John

The ladies
I enjoyed getting to know Erin, Steffoni's friend from AZ.

Our whole family

Wedding cakes made by Steffoni's aunt (on right) and me (on left). Both made with favorite family recipes.

What's more, we were able to spend real quality time with the bride and groom, and other people who are so important in their lives.

The whole gang

Thank you to all the family members who shared their pictures with me.