Wednesday, June 10, 2015

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

A fire in the firepit

Backyard pool shenannigans


Attending the ILCBA Anniversary Gala at the Willis Tower

These three faces

Frank and Brett's game of cul-de-sac tennis

Cartie eating snacks and watching a performance of Summer Stories in the Park

This monkey, who won't let his daddy have any peace and quiet, ever

My parents swinging with the kids

These guys cleaned up for church, weirdo faces and all

Salad-stuffed shells (recipe coming soon!)

Children who are so tired from sun and fun that they sometimes fall asleep in the middle of the day!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Last month, Jacob started t-ball practice. He's playing in a Lion's Club league in the town of Hudson, where he'll go to elementary school. You can barely see, but he's on the left in the grey shirt in the picture below.

Practices were held at the elementary school diamond which was unmowed and covered with weeds. Ironically, Frank and I were charmed all over again by this small town and school, and it re-affirmed our decision to live where we do, as it allows the kids the best of both town and country worlds.

(Gratuitous shot of the back of the school, mainly for the grandparents' benefit. :) )

Carter enjoyed playing on the playground equipment while Jacob practiced.

All week, Jacob looked forward to practice.  I think the rules of the game are starting to make more sense to him now, and he was excited to play ball like the big boys.  We are just happy to see him paying more attention this year, rather than picking weeds in the outfield!

The kids had four practices, and they will play four games.  Last Tuesday was the first game, and I am excited to say that Jacob made the first play of the game, fielding a ball and tagging first base! (After which, embarrassingly, his parents may have high-fived each other!)  Fielding his definitely his "thing," and he really hustles to get the ball.

Here he is playing a completely made-up position. :) (In t-ball, I don't think the coaches worry so much about standing in a certain spot as long as the kids are paying attention to the ball.) His little friend Ethan is on first base.

Water break!


Back out in the field where he likes to be.

It's been so much fun watching him enjoy this summer tradition!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Spring Yard Work

We've started the first few weeks of May with lots of outdoor time.  We had a long stretch of nice 80 degree temps, and I've used it to do a lot of yard work.  I've cut back all the grasses and trimmed all the bushes, except for the lilacs which are finally in bloom.

As a side note, did you know that when you cut a lilac to use in a vase, you should hammer the end of the stem so that it can absorb more water? That little tip brought to you by my mom via Martha Stewart.

I've also divided the hosta and given away eleven plants to friends.  Here is Jake "helping" me with the hosta.

And here he is five minutes later! 

Seriously,he is actually becoming helpful, when he's in the mood. He's decided to plant basil, a strawberry plant (June maturity), and a cherry tomato plant (July maturity).

Our issue is the bunnies.  I've elevated the pots, so maybe the bunnies won't find these plants.  Say a little prayer!

This year, I decided to switch up the planters on the front steps.  In past years, I've had a tall green plant in the center, but this year, I went with a white geranium for height.  This isn't the best picture, but on either side of the geranium are pink double impatiens and a fuschia.  The middle of the planter has purple mini-petunias (which you totally can't see in this pic), and some white petunias.  There is English ivy on the sides and a sweet potato vine at the front of the planter.  Obviously, my theory on planters is similar to my "More is More" theory on Christmas decorations.   I think these will look great once they fill out a bit.

Last Saturday, we had our mulch delivered. Moving mulch is one of our least favorite chores of the year, but it looks soo good once it's done.  This year, our neighbors let us borrow a wheelbarrow, shovel, and rake, so we had two sets of equipment going at the same time.  This was Frank's pile, and I worked a pile on the driveway.

See what I mean?  Such a pain to do, but such pretty results!

The crazy creatures with whom we share our yard did not agree.  For days, we had mulchy-headed ground squirrels popping up and chattering and bunnies scampering around, confused about the stuff under their feet.

There was even a duck!

Now I plan on sitting back, relaxing and just enjoying the yard for a while. Oh, and watering!

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Great Staycationn 2015

Last Tuesday, Frank left work at noon, beginning The Great Staycation 2015. This was the first time Frank has ever taken a few consecutive days off with nothing planned, so it was an epic event.

Tuesday afternoon, we went to the ISU Men's baseball game vs. the University of Illinois Unbeknownst to us, they were holding a pack-the-place event, and the game had a record high attendance of over 1900 people.

The kids liked it, but it's hard to keep their attention at something like that, so we headed out for dinner.  Our choice that night was the Market Grille inside our newly-opened HyVee where kids ate free at a special "Knee-High Buffet."

How weird is is that we were essentially eating inside a grocery store?  And how much weirder is it that we really liked it?!

On Wednesday, Frank took Jacob to school and picked him up.  That's one of those things that I've been doing several times a week for two years now, so I don't think it's exciting, but both Frank and Jacob thought it was pretty cool for dad to go through the drop off lane this time.

Thursday afternoon brought awesome weather, so we were outside playing, biking, and gardening for hours.  Around 4:30, our neighbor texted and asked us to come hang out.  They were outside as well, and within an hour, we had added more adults and kids to the mix.  The kids had a great time riding bikes and rollerbades and playing with sidewalk chalk.  We were able  to meet one of our newer neighbors, and thoroughly enjoyed talking, sipping wine, and watching the kids play.  Before we all disbanded, we decided that "Driveway Sitting" should be a weekly Friday evening event in our neighborhood!

Friday was the day we had planned to go to Scovill Children's Zoo in Decatur.  The weather was perfection in the high 70s/low 80's by the time we arrived in the late morning.

This zoo had a children's area where the kids could pet goats, chickens, and sheep.  They just had some new baby goats born, and they were adorable!  Neither of my kids wanted to pet them, though.

We continued looking at (and posing with) the animals.  That dang white peacock dive-bombed me about two seconds after that picture was taken!

The highlight of the zoo was definitely the train ride.

Who doesn't love a train ride?!

Cartie looooves train rides!

We then spent a while playing at the park attached to the zoo. Different parks are always a hit.

That evening, in keeping with the "Food Frank Likes" theme for the week (We also had homemade pizza and Chinese), I we had grilled steak, mac and cheese, and kale salad.  Oh, and ice cream sandwiches.

Can't forget the ice cream sandwiches.

Our Saturday was also spent outside.  Running, walking, biking, gardening.  Lots of dirt-digging. The adults didn't even shower until late afternoon!

The Great Staycation 2015 was a roaring success! We soaked up every bit of sunshine and had a great time doing everything and nothing all at once.