Oct 252012
 

So we’ve been all fever-y and bronchitis-y, but Mother Nature was all, “Get your ass outside! Have you SEEN what I’ve done with the place?” so we were all, “yes, ma’am, we’ll get better later” and spent yesterday and today in various outdoor spots.

Our awesome amazing weather yesterday and today, via my Instagram feed:

Aug 152012
 

Andy’s brother’s family’s house, the middle of an extremely fun first weekend in August with lots of extended family (both human and animal varieties).

ALL OF US: Seriously, how awesome is it to have the whole family together? You know what? While we’re getting some family photos, we should do one of all the dogs, too! What a fun and easily executable idea!

ALL OF US: Okay, so just sit Bentley over here next to Kelly, oh, this is going to be so awesome!

BENTLEY: HI KELLY HEEEEEEYY

ALL OF US: Oh my gosh, how cute! Now, where are the rest of the dogs?

THOR & AURORA: HIIIII HEY THERE WHAT’S GOING ON WE GOING FOR A WALK?

ALL OF US: Now, let’s just get everyone all lined HEY WAIT COME BACK HERE

ALL OF US: See, we’ll just line up all the dogs like so…

BENTLEY: HI ADDIE HEEEEEEYY

ADDIE: HI BENTLEY HEEEEEEYY

ALL OF US: Okay, guys, let’s sit! Sit! No, SIT! Now look here! Here! Look here!

HAZEL: I’M STILL NOT SURE WHAT’S HAPPENING LET ME BARK MY CONCERN BUT FOR REAL ARE WE GOING ON A WALK?

MILD SUCCESS!!

*immediate descent into chaos*

 

Jul 302012
 

On Friday afternoon, the kids and I ran a few errands, to the library and then to Target to start buying school supplies. (Yes, SCHOOL SUPPLIES. For KINDERGARTEN OMG.) As we parked at Target, we could see dark clouds a little to the west, with streaky lines of rain. It was a cool sight, so Henry, Eleanor and I loitered in the parking lot for a few minutes to cloud-watch.

As we exited Target, the wet parking lot signaled a shower had come through while we were shopping. We drove the few miles back to our house. As I got close to our street, I started seeing leaves strewn everywhere. Hmmm, that’s weird, I thought.

We pulled onto our strangely foggy street. Hmmm, since when does a little rain make it look like the Thriller video? I thought.

We got home to a driveway that had turned green with leaves.

It was obvious we had had a storm, but I still didn’t quite understand until I saw it.

HOLY HAIL, BATMAN.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a straight-up hailstorm, with piles of hail still stacked everywhere and melting. And while we missed the storm itself, the aftermath was pretty WHOA.

Our neighbor’s yard had a spot under a gutter that looked like somebody dumped out their cooler.

Not sure how long these had been melting (at least 20+ minutes) but they were the largest hailstones I’ve ever seen. I guess marble- and quarter-sized hail is an actual thing instead of just something that gets mentioned on the news. And how do meteorologists pick the size comparisons, anyway? Why not grape-sized hail, for example?

And the LEAVES. All over the street, the driveway, on the branches felled in my yard, and stuck in bits and pieces all the way up my house.

Leaves from the trees in my front yard covered the deck in my back yard.

Once we got over the surprise, we did the only thing one can do when it’s been a miserably hot 100°-most-days summer and you come home to a yard full of ice. We played in it.

Henry and Eleanor loved running through the fog while shouting about their cold feet.

And, of course, ice fight.

Henry yelled “taaaaaaaaake THAT!” every time he advanced to throw a handful of hail.

The strangest thing about this strange afternoon was that it seemed to be concentrated just on our little street. A neighbor passing by remarked that she had been driving the area and our street was the only one to look like it did.

Buying school supplies, then coming home to a yard full of hail and downed greenery? I think we can draw only one conclusion from this. Mother Nature is just as freaked out about Henry and Eleanor starting kindergarten as I am. I mean, that’s gotta be it, right? So please quit growing so fast, kids. THE EARTH DEMANDS IT.

Jul 142012
 

The kids are at THE perfect age. The lake is the warmest I’ve ever felt it. I have a feeling this will be our best year at the lake yet. And also the most over-documented.

Here’s today, as seen through my iPhone lens.

(not pictured: the trip to the library, where Eleanor checked out one of her brother and sister’s memorial books; the first time we’ve ever spent the ENTIRE afternoon in the water; Andy throwing the kids into the lake with a big splash and huge smiles and shouts of “do it again, Daddy!”; Henry’s ears sticking out from his mask strap; Eleanor floating on her back for 37 seconds; Henry turning the dock into a spaceship and putting it on autopilot through a meteor shower; Eleanor looking for shells and swimming with Grandma; swimming AGAIN after supper which the kids declared “way funner than a bath;” Andy and I wondering if our children had sprouted gills; a tired family conking out, ready to do it all again tomorrow)
Jul 082012
 

My mom’s made applesauce every summer that I can remember. In fact, I won’t even eat store-bought, I’m so used to my family’s version.

This year I was excited to try making it with Henry and Eleanor. Except—insert sad trombone—our spring weather pretty much decimated our central Indiana apple crop. I managed to find one orchard that had a few bushels and was doling them out by half-peck bags. We scooped one up and made a batch this afternoon.

What you need:

Lodi apples (depending on where you live, in season June/July-ish)
A whole whole bunch of sugar, like, crack open a brand-new bag because you might use most, if not all, of it
Cinnamon
One of those mortar-and-pestle strainer thingies, which the internet informed me today is called a sieve or chinoise. The more you know!

How you make it:

Chop up your apples. I cut mine into halves, and quartered the largest ones. Don’t worry about stems/leaves/skins, those will get caught by the strainer later.

Cover the apples with water, and cook them on the stove on high until soft and mushy.

Put your chinoise over a large mixing bowl. Transfer the apples to your chinoise, and get ready for the fun part. Mash the apples with the wooden pestle-thing and watch your applesauce start to ooze out.

If you are five years old, add to the fun by laughing and shouting “EWWW! YUCK! IT LOOKS LIKE PUKE!”

Once you’ve strained all the apples, add sugar and cinnamon and stir.

This step is really to taste, so no hard and fast amounts or instructions, but don’t be shocked if you have to add a bunch of sugar. Lodi apples are pretty sour, so it can take a lot. Like, I added about 2/3 of my 4-pound bag. Please don’t make me do the math and freak out over how many pounds of sugar that is.

The kids and I did several rounds of pour/stir/taste for both the sugar and cinnamon until it tasted just right. And voilà!

This applesauce freezes extremely well, so you can enjoy it year-round. I had wanted to make a year’s supply, but sadly, with our Disastrous Apple Crop it wasn’t meant to be. Our half-peck bag netted us three 4-cup containers, plus a little extra for supper tonight.

Nevertheless, Henry and Eleanor were proud of their first homemade batch. And when they told me “it tastes JUST like Grandma Sallie’s!” I was proud, too. Can’t think of a better compliment!

Jul 062012
 

We had a fun Fourth of July, it was pretty much an exact repeat of last year. Pool, grilling out with cousins, those little pop-y firework thingies, sitting by the war memorial for fireworks downtown. Eleanor even wore the same dress. It’s a great way to spend the holiday, maybe next year we’ll go for the trifecta.

 

Jun 192012
 

Last week my friend Amanda, who’s really good at planning social stuff like this, had our little clique over for a Pinterest party. We were tasked with bringing a food and a kids’ craft that we had found while pinning. It was a fun, relaxing day of cake and cheese, cloud dough and beads in ice, with some bonus light saber fights and sprinkler fun thrown in for good measure. We also went home with some craft components, ready to be whipped out as soon as the kids mutter, “I’m bored.”

Look fun, doesn’t it? It was. Want to try your own Pinterest party? Here are the crafts and food we used:

cloud dough

squeezable sidewalk chalk

ice eggs

marshmallow shooter

handprint flag

homemade playdough

better than anything cake

apple smiles

weightless boosting water

white queso dip

crockpot chicken enchilada soup