Food, Friends, and Fireworks: Independence Day 2018

We enjoyed yet another fantastic Independence Day, full of friends, food, and fireworks.  It doesn't get any better than that!  The 4th of July is hands-down one of my top three favorite holidays each year.

We began our day by loading up the truck and heading into the South Hills with the Horsleys and two sets of Stangers.  We drove all the way up and over to Bostetter to beat the heat and the crowds.  Then Bron turned into a master chef and made dutch oven fried chicken.  Delicious!  The kids did a craft and we all tried shooting some bows and arrows.  It was a simple afternoon full of eating and chatting.  Sweet memories already. 


Life Lately in June


Life never seems to slow down around here.  It just keeps on rolling.  I come up to catch my breath every evening (and sometimes during nap time) and then dive right back in to whatever comes next.  Perhaps that's exactly why time seems to speed up as we get older?  We're always prepping for the next holiday, next outing, next meal.  And while I try to fully immerse myself in the moment when those things actually happen, I think kids have the lucky end of the deal.  They lack responsibility and are allowed to just be... most of the time anyway.  The relativity of their short little lives makes every day seem long and a year drag on for eternity.  Sometimes I wish I could go back.  But I suppose I'll just be content to live vicariously through them, enjoying their youth and zest for life while appreciating my own experience and sprouting wisdom.

Anyway, that was a bit of tangent.  Just what have we been up to?  Well...

::  Bron made two personal firsts in one night when he replaced both my kitchen faucet and installed a new toilet in the boys' bathroom.  Our house is starting to show her age.  I found a puddle underneath my kitchen sink one afternoon from a faulty hose.  And the boys' toilet was getting plugged nearly every time it was flushed; nothing out of the ordinary was clogging it.  Poor Bron.  It was so aggravating for him to always have a new thing pop up on his "honey-do" list to fix.  So a few trips to the local hardware stores and a midnight bedtime for Bron meant new plumbing was successfully installed!

P.S.  It's really hard to live without a kitchen sink for a day.  I had to fill up a water jug for drinking from the hose!

^^Playing in the hose.  All my boys can be found near the water whenever it's on.  Love it.^^
^^Conrad's new favorite game: ring the doorbell.  I love that he has to stand on a stool!  Too funny.^^

Five Boys for the Week and Berry Picking

This week my two nephews Garrison (age 9.5) and Brogan (age 8) tagged along with us while their parents went on a special vacation to Hawaii.

Five boys is LOUD and BUSY!  They eat a lot too.  Everyone was on their best behavior for the first three days and then morale started deteriorating.  Why do boys love to antagonize and torture each other so much?  It was a constant battle for pecking order around here.  I openly admit that I wound up "checking out" more than I probably should have, reading my magazines and trawling the internet, just so I wouldn't have to deal with it.  Oh well.  I was still here physically in case anyone got a bloody nose, which thankfully never happened.    

The normal fighting aside, I honestly don't think the week could've gone any smoother. Coming from a family of twelve, Garrison and Brogan know what it means to pitch in and help out.  It was a fun change for me to have someone else unbuckle Conrad and grab the diaper bag every time we got out of the car!  The four big boys picked up toys, took out the trash, and emptied the dishwasher daily.  Their help around the house allowed us to do a lot of playing!  I tried to do something fun with them every day.  (And I definitely spoiled them all rotten with ice cream cones and processed treats.)

Our activities included seeing the kids' dollar movie in the theater, visiting the park, playing at Bass Lake, going for a horse and buggy ride (compliments of Brother Higley), jumping on an elevator after Conrad's well appointment at the hospital, hiking to Ross Falls, exploring old Stricker Station, and berry picking at Tubbs Berry Farm.  Those kids are little work horses.  We came home with nearly fourteen pounds of delicious red and black raspberries which we turned into homemade ice cream, freezer jam, and crepes for breakfast!  

It's been good getting to know these little guys better.  I hope they had a memorable week and that the fun times with their cousins ultimately outweigh everything else.

And now for pictures from our mid-morning berry picking adventure.... 


School of Rock

My dapper mini dude.

Conrad outgrew his church pants and none of the hand-me-downs survived, so I went to the store in search of a new pair.  It's the end of June and (duh!) I didn't have any luck.  But I did find these adorable quick dry grey shorts.  (Quick dry?  Haha.  He wears a diaper!)  Thus, Conrad's new church look.  I'm digging it.  All he needs now is a little guitar or a set of drums and he's ready to join the School of Rock.  (Hey, maybe I should totally turn that into a mini photo shoot?!)

In other news, at 19 months old, Conrad learned how to climb out of his crib and open the round knob on his bedroom door.  I was on my computer one morning finishing something up last week when he proudly exited his room with his arms in the air.  "Ta-da!"  he exclaimed.  Conrad had the biggest grin on his face.  Definitely a new trick.  (The other two boys never did this!)  And so it's been on repeat every morning since.  Conrad is just happy to be here, not a care in the world.  He's a delight.

I lowered his crib side because what's the point in keeping it full height if he's just going to crawl out anyway?  (Yes, I know, my crib is ancient.)  I'm not quite ready to part with the crib and tell myself Conrad isn't quite ready either as I sneak in while he's sleeping to find him pressed up against the bars.  He still needs those things to keep from falling out, right?  In all reality, he'll probably graduate to a twin mattress on the floor sometime this fall or winter.

Right now, however, we're facing a brand new challenge in training him to stay in bed!

He usually goes down without a fuss, but tonight, I don't think Conrad was quite ready to hit the hay.  He came out of his room at least half a dozen times.  Conrad was just too darn cute dragging his red blanket and happily jabbering away.  He melted even Bron's ornery frozen heart and earned himself a full ten minutes of cuddling in the living room.

So there really is something to this third child baby status!  Conrad seems to know it and has us all wrapped around his tiny pinky fingers.            


Baseball Season

We just wrapped up yet another baseball season.  It was Jed's first year doing machine pitch and Levi's second year doing T-ball.  Baseball season always brings a bit of busyness to the beginning of summer, (And let's be honest, a little bit of stress too.  "Dinner promptly at 5PM so we can be there before 6!  Where's your mitt?  Put on your jersey!") but having boys in sports is really growing on me in the best of ways.

It was fun to have something to do on Tuesday and Thursday nights.  I enjoyed chatting with other folks in the community.  But above all, it was rewarding to watch my boys improve, learn team skills, and just all around enjoy the sport!  Jed improved the most this season, I think.  He struck out and never got on base his first few games but got three solid hits his last game!  The confidence he suddenly exuded in the outfield blew me away.  So, so, fun.  Win or lose, I'm a proud mama.  


Fishing with Hot Dogs at Bass Lake

It's that time of year again we've all been looking forward to for weeks!  We made our first trip to Bass Lake on Friday.  Hip-hip-hooray!  It was too cool and overcast for swimming, so the boys opted to go fishing and play in the sand instead.  Bron even met us out there for a little while.  It was paradise for three full hours.  Never mind the fact that everything unraveled fast as soon as we got home and the boys were all in bed by 7pm.  The good memories made at the lake far outweigh everything else that day.

This is our last season at Bass Lake, so we're not taking any days there for granted.  Our membership to the lake is paid through Bron's company... the one he switched from about a month ago.  When Bron was in his boss' office, he admitted to Todd that my biggest hang-up about the job switch was the loss of our membership to Bass Lake.  And that's when Todd suggested I keep using it!  He has no one else to give the membership to at the moment, so why not keep using it.  Wow!  I wish I could hug him.  It means so much to me!  I'm hopelessly attracted to bodies of water and Bass Lake feels like a local Eden.    

Funny story, while at Sportsman's picking up fishing hooks and sinkers, the boys got talking to a man about Bass Lake.  He said he used to fish there when he was a boy.  And that's when Jed and Levi started with the fish stories.  "We caught a fish that was thiiis big!" they bragged holding out their arms from side to side.  I laughed.  It starts young, I tell ya.

So let's play two truths and a lie.

Over the last two seasons at Bass Lake we have:

A.  Caught a fish that was three feet long
B.  Caught a fish that was promptly eaten by another bigger fish (essentially a two for one scenario)
C.  Caught a turtle

Answers are at the bottom of this post.