Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fall Tastes So Good

Although we've been talking a lot about pumpkins around here lately, there is a whole other class of food that deserves just as much, if not more, of our attention this time of year....

Soups, stews, chilis...yum! I have been craving a good stew, and tonight.is.the.night. Pair it with some crusty, buttery, french bread and take me to heaven!

You know, there is only one thing I do not absolutely love about my crock pot. When you stay at home and have delicious aromatic food constantly enticing you, all you want is to snack all day long, haha. My crock pot is convenient, but it doesn't do a diet any favors. Not that I'm on a diet. I love and embrace all kinds of food. All food matters.

Putting the lid on this one and waiting for Eric to get home. ;)

Good, hearty food is just one of the many reasons why I love this season so darn much. This is the time of the year that is just bursting with family activities, and since we've moved there are no shortage of those to go around.

Every month a thick, glossy magazine is delivered to our home that is full of advertisements for all of the events that are happening down the street. This magazine is both a blessing and a curse to me, because on one hand, I know what's going on...on the other hand, I feel this internal obligation to do ALL OF THE THINGS. I flip through the pages of that periodical doing my very best Jim Carrey in The Mask impersonation. "Somebody stop me!"

Eric is, admittedly, not as into all of these random festivals and things, but he loves me so, and he's an enabler. I mean...he's a good sport. So off we go, trucking it (or is it vanning it?) to the next event. This weekend, it was an art show. :)

Our neighborhood family center, where the kiddos like to go to swim, hosted a festival this weekend where local artists could come out to display and sell their work. Our kids were most interested in the bubbles flying everywhere and....

...the sno-cone mobile. :)

My children are given the freedom to dress themselves most of the time, hence the reason Gracie is wearing her Easter dress in September. I mean...it was stinkin hot that day. :)

We bust out the strollers for the little ones and walk around for as long as we can possibly stand it. That is never long enough for Gracie. If we haven't touched every square inch of the place and if we haven't participated in every single activity there is to do, then we are leaving much, much too soon. And we'll hear about it allll the way to the car.

The big kids know they have to share their treats with Charlotte, but Charlotte doesn't think the big kids are fast enough in sharing their treats...so she just helps her little self. :)

Much to Grace's dismay, we had a hot infant and a very sticky toddler on our hands, and we had to bid the art show adieu soon after this. It's character building, daughter of mine. Being one of five is character building. That's what I say. :)

Vacation could be very interesting this year, which, speaking of...it was fastpass morning today. That glorious day of the year where I wake up extra early to make sure our family can ride things and see things two whole months in advance. That also means...60 days to go until I am at my happy place for a Christmas celebration!! And 59 days until we leave - woot! We embark on Black Friday, which gives me a little bit of inner turmoil considering that is also the day that Gilmore Girls premiers on Netflix. I mean seriously. Disney or Gilmore Girls?? That's a hard one. Guess I'll be waiting until we get back - so nobody spoil it OKAY?? :D

I am also in the middle of birthday party planning, and it's like all of life is converging into one glorious ball of fall...all of the things I've been looking forward to are happening right now and it's just a little bit overwhelming, but...at least I get to slow it down and savor my nice bowl of stew tonight.

Well. Who am I kidding? I'll be waitressing to four children and shoveling it in as fast as I can before number five wakes up and the big kids are asking for more. Eric, do we ever get to eat at the same time anymore? Haha.

I think we're all ready for that vacation. ;) Hope you have a great day today!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Pumpkin Taste-Off Kidz Vurshun

Whew, Eric has been in Boston and it took me all week to find the time to edit this thing, but we finally present to you the pumpkin taste-off, Robert kid edition. :)

The kids begged and pleaded to be a part of the original pumpkin taste-off, but I promised them that they could do one themselves...IF they were good and quiet and let mom and dad film our own, haha. So on Monday after school they gathered in the dining room and sampled a modified version of what we tried over the weekend.

This video is mercifully shorter than the first, and comes with it's own set of disclaimers. If spit and fart jokes are not your thing, skip it. Because this one shows our kiddos in all of their goofy glory!

It's never a dull day hanging out with this crew! So after all of the taste testing, there were a few items that have *actually* been eaten in this house. The pumpkin spice milk is long gone - the kids devoured that after school days ago. Grace had a pumpkin pop tart for breakfast this morning. I have been throughly enjoying afternoon spoonfuls of pumpkin cheesecake ice cream, and despite her review of it, I'm pretty sure Gracie has been sneaking pieces of the gum. :)

In other news, I have to document here that our Lincoln is six weeks old today! I can't believe we've reached this milestone already, and I'll be going in for my post-baby check up on Monday. I cannot WAIT to get the all-clear to start strength training with Eric and to get the rest of this baby weight off. (Twenty pounds down, thirty to go!) I'd settle with twenty more...I don't need to be pre-baby weight. Just want to fit into most of my wardrobe again so I don't have to buy all new clothes. :)

He's such a cutie pie. I'll happily spend my days with him, and he's worth the poundage! ;) He has started grabbing onto things, like my HAIR, and he does stay awake for maybe a few more minutes every day. He has beautiful blue eyes still, just like his big brother. Just dreamy! He is such a gift to our family.

I think after this weekend we may be in for a cool down around here, and since it's officially fall now, that makes me very happy! Life is grand! Hope you have a great weekend. :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

It's a Pumpkin Taste-Off!

You know that fall is fast approaching when you walk into the grocery store, minding your own business, and suddenly  e v e r y t h i n g  has been inundated by the flavor of the season - pumpkin. Sweet things, savory things, things you drink...from cookies to beer, you can't get away from it.

For some people this makes a trip to the market at this time of year a little bit like heaven on earth, and it might be a little vomit inducing for others. Whatever your feelings, it looks like pumpkin is here to stay for quite a while. So I convinced my husband to sit down with me and film a little video of us sampling about a dozen or so of these spicy seasonal treats. If you aren't sure if pumpkin yogurt or bubble gum is for you, well you've come to the right place! Well...maybe. You don't have to let our opinion sway you.

We're calling this the 2016 Pumpkin Taste-Off! And here's a list of all of the things we tried:

Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts
Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Cheesecake cookies
Pumpkin Spice Saltwater Taffy
Prairie Farms Pumpkin Spice Milk
Eckert's Pumpkin Butter
Yoplait Pumpkin Pie yogurt
Pumpkin Spice Cheerios
Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights
Pepperidge Farm Milano Pumpkin Spice cookies
Schlafly Pumpkin Ale
Ben & Jerry's Pumpkin Cheesecake ice cream
Extra Pumpkin Spice gum

It's a long video, but we felt a strong obligation to be extremely thorough for our fellow consumers. :) Actually, it just takes a really long time to chew your way through this much pumpkin, apparently. If you are squeamish about watching people eat...about possibly seeing something spewed from someone's mouth...and/or talking with your mouth full, this might not be the video for you. On the other hand, it could be worth it just to see me drink an alcoholic beverage - something that no one will be seeing again, any time soon. You decide. :)

We had fun doing this together, in spite of some of the faces you may have seen here. And we may have found a new favorite or two as well. If you've tried a pumpkin flavored thing this season that is just super great, let us know! 

As for this year, that's a wrap on our evaluation of pumpkin offerings. I think I'll be taking a break from anything pumpkin spice for the rest of this week. :) 

Happy Day! 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Dardenne Prairie Days!

Seasonal allergies threatened to creep in and overtake some of our family members this weekend (probably the ONLY icky thing there is about fall) but we managed to push through and keep them somewhat at bay. We shall overcome! Thanks to drugs and neti pots.

We had some fall festivaling to do.

This weekend was Dardenne Prairie Days in our community, and we decided to get out and acclimate a bit to our new city. While we have an O'Fallon, MO address, we actually live in a smaller town called Dardenne Prairie...like literally, we are on the skirts of it.  Our subdivision is the first thing past the city limit sign. :)

So we made our way down to the city hall park with our crew to cruise around and check out the fun.

Gracie was practically coming out of her skin. She lives for stuff like this, and she spent the entire afternoon ticking off all of the things she was going to do. "...and I want to play games, and get my face painted, and play on the playground...." She was pretty happy to be soaking up the festival atmosphere.

Just don't mind younger brother Reagan, who was a complete mess when trying to take a picture. 

I attempted a second shot, and he sneezed right when I pressed the shutter button. :D

Much like the festival we went to in Columbia last year, there were a lot of vendor booths set up for local businesses, which was actually pretty helpful for us. Eric found a possible new chiropractor, haha! They had little games or activities for the kids to do.

The kids' favorite activity was probably making tic-tac-toe games out of stones and little pouches. It was a cute and clever idea!

As usual, Lincoln stayed in the stroller the entire time and just slept away. Thank you son for making my life just a little bit easier! To my surprise, our big kids breezed right past the row of bounce houses that were set up to beeline for the playground. They have come here a few times with their grandparents already, so they know it well!

It was nice to get out as a whole family on our own! Eric looked at me later and said, "See, we can do this." Haha.

There was all of the traditional food and snacks, balloon animals, and family activities that you expect to see at these kinds of things. Eventually we did have to pry our kids away from the fun. Gracie did not want to leave! But we managed to lure them away with a promised trip to the store and some dinner in the air conditioning. :) Saturday night was a success!

On Sunday we did a little more acclimating as Eric worked for the very first time in the children's department at our new church. We plan to take turns serving until Lincoln is a little bit older and we start leaving him in the nursery. We'll be working with first and second graders every second Sunday of the month! Kids are kids wherever you go, and he said it was just like serving at our old church. I'm glad to finally reach a point where we aren't just attending something but becoming an integral part of it. It's good for the soul.

In the afternoon grandparents came for a visit while Eric and I ran errands. Saturday date nights have somehow evolved into Sunday afternoon outings. :) We came home to grill up some grub, and then last night Eric and I filmed a special video that you might just see here tomorrow. For those of you who check out our more day-in-the-life types of posts like this one, thank you, and here's a preview of what we've been up to. You know it's almost officially fall when....

Stay tuned!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Confession Friday - It's Magical!

It's been a LONG time since we've done a Confession Friday around here. And while I have plenty of things I could actually confess about mommyhood and the craziness of our every day life, we're doing it differently today.

I confess that there are a lot of childhood fantasies a part of my adult soul still wants to believe in. A tiny thread of my being still holds on to these thoughts, and if I woke up tomorrow and somehow found out that they were really true I would be like, "Aha! I knew it!" And I would be completely satisfied with life.

So here they are. Five childhood dreams that I'm only 99.2% certain aren't real.


1. Santa Claus. Okay, let's start with a big one here. I love Santa Claus. It's true. Not really just the big guy himself, but the whole North Pole dream with the village of toy making elves and the stables of flying reindeer, and the magic...365 Christmas...it's just way too much fun. I could not care less about the tooth fairy and would be mildly impressed if there really were an April Valley where the Easter Bunny lived, but Santa - he's the man. I was one of those kids who just sort of figured it out on my own and point blank asked my mom one day. Even though my senses told me, "Nope, not real," a part of my heart has always held on to the dream. There's a little ache in my soul that there isn't really a workshop hidden in a frozen tundra. Sigh...at least there are a million movies to keep my dream alive. Is it Christmastime yet? :)

2. I'm only 98% sure that toys do not actually come alive when we're not around.  Before Toy Story came on the scene and convinced kids born in the 90's that this was true, there was Raggedy Ann and Andy, and they're the ones that sealed the deal for me. Right this very second I am feeling really bad for a plastic baby doll that is getting rained on because the girls left her on the back porch. Like, I seriously almost ran out in the pouring rain to save her until I came to my senses. Dolls have feelings too, you know.  I mean they don't. Do they? No, no. Not really. Ugh... how can all these little trinkets we have not come alive when we're sleeping? It just explains so many things in my life!

3. Alternate worlds. There has to be another world somewhere filled with all of the mythical and fairy tale people we've always heard about. Like Alice Through the Looking Glass or Virginia in The 10th Kingdom, I'm pretty sure you travel there by mirror. In fact, I had very vivid dreams of this when I was kid. There was a place I visited frequently via mirrors when I drifted off to sleep at night. I always came through in the same place - a backroom in a quaint village that had stone walls and open windows near the ceiling that I could never reach. (Don't ask me!) I usually got into some sort of trouble in this fairy tale world pretty quickly and woke up in a cold sweat as I tried to run my way back to that room and get home again, haha. Yes, I had a wild imagination when I was kid and apparently that didn't stop in my dreams. But were they just dreams? Dun dun dun....

4. Time Travel. Someone out there must really be doing this and we just don't know about it. Right? I mean, have you ever heard of the Mandela Effect?? Look that up. And don't give me "false memories." Are you trying to tell me that everyone is having the same hallucinations and that somewhere deep in my hippocampus that my brain is just making things up? NO. Time travel. There is no other true explanation. Move over Michael J. Fox.

5. Magic School. I love me some Harry Potter, but once again, he wasn't the first. (The Worst Witch, anyone? You can youtube that one, children of the 80's. You're welcome.) There have been stories of kids being shipped off to magic schools for years and years. There have to be magical people living alongside us while we foolish mortals walk around unawares. I mean...there has to be. And in a nod to Mr. Potter, how else do you explain fog?? Haha, okay, so...I probably believe in this one least of all. I mean, Santa - that could be legit. But still...part of me really hopes I get to go to magic school someday. I just hope that 31 isn't too old....

I have a feeling that when I die and learn about some of the things going on in this world that I had no idea about, I'll be knocked off of my feet by more incredible things than what are on this list. But until that time comes, I'm just going to keep swinging on that last thread of hope that maybe one of these could turn out to be true. ;) Adulthood would just be way too boring without secretly thinking I could be whisked away every time I walk by a random mirror or thinking that the toy sprawled out in the middle of the floor didn't just end up there all by itself. Do you remember "The Borrowers?" Yeah, they are probably real, too. Our borrowers like to steal socks and "borrow" my cell phone. A lot. Actually, I know the borrowers exist...and I'm pretty sure their names are Evelyn, Grace, and Reagan.

To all of my fellow childlike thinkers out there...solidarity friends. We're not weird. We're just...very in-tune with alternate reality. In a world where present reality kind of sucks a lot of the time, what would this place be without us? :D Keep dreaming, friends!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Married People

Eight years ago, I walked down the aisle and took this hunk of burnin' love off of the market.

There are a few things I would change about our wedding day if I were given a do-over. This was before the age of pinterest. Before everyone and their brother had access to decent DSLR cameras and could get way better pictures than our photographer did without even trying. :) I had no idea what I was doing, and if it weren't for some amazing family members stepping in and working hard behind the scenes for us, who knows what this day would have ended up like!

But oh, we were happy. So so happy. It was a really good day. And believe it or not, even without perfect pinteresty centerpieces and my dream wedding cake and all the bells and whistles, I look back on this day with nothing but fond memories. 

We packed St. Patricks full to capacity and danced and mingled the night away. After the music stopped and our AMAZING DJ bid adieu for the evening, everyone hung around and just kept talking, haha! All who we bumped into said that they just weren't ready for the night to end. We snuck away while our guests hung out and could not believe that finally, after our years as high school sweethearts and making it all the way through college...seven years later we were married. Whew! We made it. :) 

We've had a great eight years as husband and wife. We've built our family, established a home, and laid a foundation for our future together. We don't know all that the future has for us, but we've done all we set out to do in round one. We've reached all of the first goals we made years ago. Now we are ready for a great round two, and I am so thankful!

This weekend we celebrated another marriage. Enter stage left a new member of our family who you will be seeing around here periodically. Meet Tyler, my sister's husband. :)

My little sister went and got herself hitched. She and Tyler are here visiting for the week, and there was a little open house style get together for them on Sunday.

They came to our house to hang out yesterday, and I'm so glad we got to spend a little extra time with them. Our kids are already excited about their new uncle and were sad to learn that they aren't here for good, haha. I think Eric, who has always given Shannon a hard time about boys, gives his stamp of approval on this one. Because Shannon, I know his stamp of approval is extremely important to you, haha!

Aw. Marine love. :) We had a good time hanging out with them! Come back for some more tacos and your daily dose of crazy any time, guys. And congratulations! We hope God blesses your marriage greatly. 

Oh, and....

It's a framer! ;)

September love is in the air! Of course, our life looks a lot different than it did eight years ago. I'll be lucky if I get a shower and don't have to cook dinner tonight. But in some ways, it's as if we've come full circle. We now live in the same area Eric and I moved to right after we were married. It's like we were always meant to be here. We just had to take a brief intermission to move home for a few years while we had a million babies, haha. 

We drive by our old apartment building every once in a while, and that part of our life feels like forever ago. Setting up our first place together, and being sick sick sick while I was pregnant with Evelyn. Yeeeah...I don't miss that. I will happily tuck those chapters away for posterity. 

We've come a long way, and to my love I say, Happy Anniversary! 

Don't let them keep you late at work tonight. ;)

And to any future wedding planners out there, I gotta say, September is a great month for wedding. Just putting that out there for you. :D

Okay, later dudes!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Apple Fest 2016

There are still moments that Eric and I forget that we have five children. Then something will happen that quickly snaps us back to reality, and we look at each like deer in headlights. One of us, usually Eric, then states the obvious: "We have FIVE kids."

This weekend though, it was my turn. As I gathered outfits together for our first real family outing as a family of seven and laid out five little blue hats along the back of the sofa, I saw the long row of clothes and realized that those five hats fit on five heads. It took my breath away for a second.

They are cute little heads though.

We were venturing out to Eckert's annual Apple Fest to officially kick off a season full of family fun! 

Let us now take a moment of silence to remember that we were supposed to be in Disney World this week. I was supposed to be riding Peter Pan yesterday and walking around the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (aka EPCOT) today. Instead, we had a baby. :) And I think that all worked out pretty well. 

We lessened the sting by trading in Dole Whips for biscuits and apple butter, and riding Dumbo for taking a spin in some revolving apple carnival rides....

It was a beautiful day for playing in the Fun Corral and taking strolls through the country store. But first, we had lunch reservations to make!

Lincoln did great this whole day. In all honesty, we probably could have taken our trip this week after all. Linc would have just slept his little life away. Let's hope he's just as easy a couple of months from now!

Charlotte was enjoying all of the yummy food! Since she's still too little to do most of the activities at Eckerts, this was probably her favorite part of the whole day, haha.

I was amazed by how very not busy it was this day. Maybe it was because it was the very first days of the festival. Maybe because people had other plans for the holiday weekend. All I know is, apple season is a great time to visit compared to the extremely packed pumpkin season! Now is the time to go if you just want to play around the farm for a while. :)

I think Charlotte might resemble her grandpa Greg just a little bit.

The big kids loved all of the rides, and Charlotte loved watching them! She was whooping it up. 

There were train rides and lots of jumping in the bounce houses...soon the afternoon began heating up and we all needed to take a little break from the sunshine! Lincoln continued to sleep away, shaded in his stroller and oblivious to it all. Next year he'll be a more active participant in the fall fun, haha.

We stepped inside the country store for a bit to do a little shopping and "pick" some apples. ;) Certainly you can take a wagon ride out to the orchards to pick your own apples, and maybe next year we will. It was just a little much for us this time with a newborn in tow.

If you happen to eat in the restaurant, don't forget to keep your kid menus. There is a coupon for a free candy stick printed on each one. :)

Inside the country store you can sample each of the varieties of apples that Eckerts grows so that you know which ones you like best! 

Gracie liked Honeycrisp the most, and Evie chose Pixie Crunch! We got some of each to take home with us.

Besides making some new family memories, probably the most important take away from our day was the realization that we could indeed venture out with our crew and survive to tell the tale. We don't have to be hermits in this stage of life, after all. Now my mind is reeling with which places we should try next! There are a lot of logistics we need to work out before we pack up for a 16 hour road trip and spend a week away from home. One step at a time. Maybe we should try out the zoo first, haha.

Are we nuts? Probably. 

Oh, and I do exist. Here I am enjoying a delicious honeycrisp from the comforts of our air conditioned vehicle. 

This is what happens when you forget to take a family photo at the beginning of the trip and completely fail at gathering a bunch of people at the end. (Parenting pro-tip: Never ever wait until the end. Get your family pictures FIRST thing, haha.) We know better than this. :D

If you are local and can make it over to Eckerts for Apple Fest, you totally should! We really enjoyed our day hanging out at one of our favorite spots for fall. We're supposed to have a fairly mild season I hear, so there should be plenty of opportunities to get out with little ones and have some fun during this most festive time of year. And just maybe we'll see some of you around the pumpkin patch! ;)

Happy day!


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