Monday, June 30, 2014

Too Many Books

I've been binge reading this year.  After last year when I didn't meet my yearly reading goal of 80 books (I only read 49) I got off to a good start in 2014.  Where I was stalled before, I suddenly rediscovered my love of reading.
Somehow, I've devoured 100 books in the past six months.  Certainly the harsh winter was helpful.  So many books, so little time!  Needless to say, I've been making a lot of trips to the library.

The librarian even talked me into joining an adult summer reading program.  She asked me twice.  I felt kind of embarrassed (5 books over the summer? I'll save it for the folks who need the motivation more than me!  I felt like it would be selfish to join.) so I kindly turned her down.  Finally, the third time, she knuckled down on me.  She wore through my defenses.  I finally agreed, and dutifully read my 5 books and turned in my reviews.  This put my name in the hat for a Barnes and Noble gift card, but hopefully someone who really worked hard to read their 5 books will win. 

Now that I hit 100 books, I'm taking a little reading break.  I think that maybe I read too many books. 

How about you, readers?  Are you reading anything besides blogs lately?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Wrought Iron

This picture was taken at the duck pond when we went a couple of weeks ago.
We have been staying busy.  Last week the boys did VBS and had a great time.  I have started teaching my class.  Plus I still have my other job.  It's good to be teaching again. 

Yesterday I turned a year older.  Next year I'll hit the next decade. 

I learned a new word this week, while reading a book called The Expats (which was excellent, if you like spy thrillers).  The word?  Vomitoria.  Yeah.  You know I had to google that.  Furthermore - I think it'll be a word that I get a chance to use next time I'm at a ballgame or something. 

Have a great weekend, readers!

Linked with Good Fences at Run A Round Ranch

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Duck Pond

Last year we had a trip to the duck pond on our summer bucket list, but never had the time to go.  So this year, we made that a priority for our first week of summer vacation.
 We brought some popcorn and bread for the ducks.  And geese.
 There were so many to see, and it was a beautiful day.
 Lots of babies to around.

How a duck eats a big bread crust:
The hole of doom.  Which ate a shoe from each of the twins.  See the shoe in there?  Many tears over the hole of doom!

Flying duck.

Run, geese, run!

Pierce, a little subdued, since breaking his arm.
He seems to be doing alright though.
Readers, do you have anyplace to feed the ducks where you live?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Berry Pickers

A few weeks ago we went to pick strawberries.  They were late this year, because of the extended winter.
 Reid was a champion berry picker.  Cort was close behind, very intent on finding the perfect berries.
Then there was Pierce.  Who picked seven berries.  That's right, seven in his bucket.  But see the slight bulge in his belly? 

In the end, we got enough to make jam.  And this year?  My strawberry jam set perfectly!
Readers, what is your favorite flavor of jam?

Friday, June 20, 2014

NuNaturals Giveaway - 4 Winners, Plus Energy Balls Recipe

Disclaimer:  I received products from NuNaturals for review purposes.  All the opinions in this post are my own. 

I've worked with NuNaturals before, and I love using their sweeteners made from Stevia.  They have a wonderful assortment (lemon, vanilla, orange, etc.) and this time I got to try a new one - cherry vanilla.  It tastes amazing in the ice water I take with me to work - I just add a few drops before I leave (and is also a fun, calorie-free way to sweeten iced tea).

NuNaturals has a new product out that is a cocoa syrup.  I decided to use it to make some Energy Balls, which the whole family enjoys as a light dessert.  It's also a great way to sneak dates or figs into your children!

1 cup quick cooking oats
8 dried dates
1/2 cup peanut butter (or almond butter)
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
3/4 tbsp. NuStevia cocoa syrup
1 1/2 tbsp. water

Place all ingredients in food processor and process until well-blended.  Form into 1 inch balls (if mixture is too dry, add water by the teaspoon until you reach the proper consistency).  Store in refrigerator.  Yield:  20

NuNaturals is offering 4 lucky winners a generous prize pack:  1 bottle of vanilla NuStevia liquids, a 50 packet box NuStevia powder packets, a bottle of the new cocoa syrup, and a bottle of the new simple syrup - a $52.00 value.  Plus, there will be one bonus product!  This giveaway is open worldwide (no P.O. boxes).  To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter below.  Good luck!
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Green Valley Book Fair

Every year we love to take a trip to the Green Valley book fair.  It only runs during certain times of the year.  The day school got out for Pierce, we took a drive up there with my mom, who was kind enough to give each of the boys a little spending money.  But even better?  She supervised them, so I could shop!
 I stocked up on lots of educational books for the boys to use this summer.  We do a little school work every day.  I don't want their minds to go completely to waste.  After a couple of hours (it is a HUGE book fair - think warehouse), we were starving.  We went to Wright's Dairy-Rite, which has been a dining staple in Staunton for many years.

The tables sport their old menus - a different year at each booth.  Wish burgers still ran 55 cents....

Pierce got to do the honors of placing our order by the phone at our table.  He was so excited to get to use it.  He did a great job.  And later, when my mom needed some cole slaw?  We just picked up the phone and told them.  Very convenient!
The strawberry milkshake I had?  Fantastic!  We were all so stuffed at the end of our meal that we could barely make the drive home.  Cort said, "That was the best day ever!'.  Indeed, it was a nice start to summer.

Monday, June 16, 2014


My husband enrolled the boys in a free kids' bike racing series this spring.  I missed the first two races because of work.  But I got to see the last one.  Reid placed in the first two races (2nd and 3rd) but Cort did not.  Cort was very jealous.  After the first race, he tried to talk Reid into riding slower, so that he could win instead.  When he didn't, Cort was mad that Reid didn't let him win.  Cort really wanted a medal.

When the race started, there were 15 kids total in the twins' age group.  Reid had the lead from the start.  Here he is coming around the curve before the final stretch.
 But then, something crazy happened.  Cort started pushing harder.  Then he jumped off his bike and started running and pushing the bike (the finish is on an uphill).  And he started catching up.  Reid had no idea Cort was behind him.  The determination on Cort's face was captivating.  All the parents stopped to watch the twins battle it out, and there was a stunned silence as the two of them went neck to neck for the finish.  I was so shocked that I forgot to take pictures. 

In the end, Reid won by about a foot.  But Cort was thrilled.  After he crossed the finish line, he said, "I get a medal this time, right?!". 

Cort got a second place medal, and Reid got first place.  In addition, Reid was the overall winner for the entire series, and Cort was the second place overall winner.  Next year, the twins will be in the next age group up, and the competition is a little more stiff there.  It'll be interesting to see how they fare.
Here is Pierce in his race, which was longer and wrapped through some trails.  Pierce didn't place in any of his races, but you can see from his face what joy he gets just from the experience.  He is such a happy biker.  
Afterwards, there were hot dogs and chips for all the kids, to celebrate.  We are looking forward to next year's series! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Field Day

Pierce had his field day just before school let out.  If you've been following my blog for a while, you know I'm a long-term field day hater.  But it means the world to Pierce to have me show up, so the twins and I made an appearance.  It was a chilly morning, and the kids were all freezing once they got wet.  But they still had tons of fun.

In this game, they passed fireman hats (with holes) of water over their heads to the person behind. 

There was an obstacle course.

And the twins crashed the obstacle course.

Luckily, none of the other kids in Pierce's class seemed to care.
We left before the class moved on to the giant waterslide.  I had a few obligations that afternoon, plus the twins were really angling to do the giant waterslide, and I hadn't brought any towels or spare clothes for them.  We snuck out just in time.

I'm glad that the boys all love field day.  I always hated math too as a kid.  Think there's any chance all three boys will end up loving math as well? 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Amazing Chocolate Pancakes with International Delight Hershey's Creamer

Sometimes lazy summer mornings call for a celebration, especially right after school is out. I surprised my boys with these decadent chocolate pancakes, which come together quickly with a few simple ingredients. They are like a rich, moist brownie inside a pancake, thanks to the creaminess of International Delight's gourmet creamer.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup cocoa
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 1/4 cup International Delight Hershey's chocolate caramel creamer
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add wet ingredients and stir until well blended. Cook over medium heat until bubbles form, then flip.

My boys all raved over these amazing pancakes! Needless to say, there weren't any leftovers. On school days, we never have time for anything but cereal for breakfast, so pancakes was a wonderful way to celebrate a summer morning. Next time, I will have to make a double batch.
In lieu of comments, I would love for my readers to show some support to International Delight today. Be sure to check out their new fantastic packaging! Or browse some of their other tasty summery recipes on Pinterest.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Boys Dance Too

I've blogged before about how much I loathed ballet as a kid.  I like watching the ballet, though, and enjoy seeing others practice and perform all types of dance.  I just wasn't much of a dancer myself - much preferring to ride horses over all other sports and hobbies.  Imagine my surprise when Cort started begging for dance lessons.  And begging.  He was relentless.  So I did a little research and he started a ballet/tap combination class this spring.
 The first part of the class is some stretching, followed by ballet.  Cort is the only boy.  He doesn't mind at all.  He has learned that in ballet, boys have to be the gentleman and let the girls go first.  But the boys get to do more leaping, and they always wear black shoes.  After ballet, the tap shoes come on.

They have been practicing a routine for the big Spring recital.  It's a cute dance set to a very modern and upbeat version of "If You're Happy and You Know It".

Indeed, there is some jumping in the routine.  And some sliding.  And lots of tapping with those clickety clack shoes.

There might even be....jazz hands.

Every single morning since Cort started lessons, he wakes up and says, "Is tonight dance?"
If I say no, he says "awwwwwwww" in a sad voice.
Maybe part of it is that his instructor is so fun.  She teaches rhythm using tambourines and drumsticks.  And sometimes, even a parachute!
Cort's favorite part of the lesson is a dance they do to the song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight".  In the end, they snuggle with a stuffed friend.

I don't know how long Cort will want to dance.
But for now, at least, I think we can safely say that he's found something he loves.
Something that is teaching him discipline, respect, coordination and rhythm.
Not to mention how to have a whole lot of fun.
That's right folks.
Boys can dance too.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Spit and Polished

Normally we put our yearly tax return towards a few summer camps for the boys, car repairs, and a summer vacation.  This year we really needed to do a few things to the house, so the vacation was pushed to the back burner.  Disappointing, but such is life.

Instead, we got some very much needed gravel put on the driveway.  This past winter did quite a number on our driveway, with all those snowstorms.

 We also bought stain for the logs on our house.  Paul tediously worked to resand every log and then painted the stain on by hand.  It hadn't been done since we first built the home, so it was overdue.
Now the logs look so smooth and shiny - no more shabby spots.  The house is all spit and polished.

Lastly, we had heat installed in the guest room in the basement.  Something we meant to do some 5 years ago when we finished the guest room.  But it just never happened.  Nice to get some big projects done. 

Fingers crossed that we'll get that vacation next summer!  How about you readers, do you have any projects happening?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Longest Day

This weekend our Sunday morning got off to a rough start when Pierce fell backwards off a stool and broke his arm.  We knew immediately it was either broken or dislocated - it was bulging above the elbow and hanging limply.  We rushed him to the car.  Putting a child with a freshly broken arm in a carseat is a nightmare that no parent wants to go through.  I felt so terrible trying to get the buckles on.  Since Pierce was three years old I have always taught him how to use deep breathing techniques to calm himself, and we practiced a lot of deep breathing on the drive to the hospital.  I told him stories to distract him (and also told him step by step what would happen when we got to the hospital - as best I knew) and he was a deep breathing champ.  Even though it was a further drive, I took him to a hospital on the other side of town - it wasn't the closest hospital but I knew it would have less of a wait than the larger one.  My instincts were right.  We didn't wait in the ER at all - they took a look at his arm and that combined with his age got him right into a room.  Pierce practiced more deep breathing while they put in an IV, but then he started feeling better with some pain medication, and they were able to take the x-rays. 

The news from the x-rays was not good.  He had a very rough break, and would need surgery.  They debated whether to try to wait 8 hours for his breakfast to digest - but the orthopedic surgeon felt like he should get in there before the swelling started.  So 2 1/2 hours after the break happened, Pierce was prepped for surgery.  His anesthesiologist explained every step to him, and then asked if he had any questions.  Pierce said, "Does your hospital have a robot?".  This made everyone smile, and Pierce got to make a special visit to the hospital surgery robot, which was located in a OR that was not in use.  Time was taken to tell Pierce all about how the robot worked.  This is the control station:

And this is Pierce next to the actual robot.  He's very proud of this picture, and can't wait to share it at Robotics camp later this summer.
Pierce played U2 on the blackberry for the surgery team as they wheeled him back.  I spent a very long hour in a waiting room by myself, texting family members.  After an hour, his surgeon came in and said the surgery had gone well.  Pierce had two pins put in his arm and a temporary cast, which would be changed in 10 days.  He had thrown up during surgery, so they had to suction his stomach, but other than that it had all gone smoothly.  After 30 minutes in recovery, I got to go see Pierce.  He was very drowsy but not in pain.  Soon, they wheeled him to a private room, where we surfed the tv searching for cartoons.

After a while, Pierce started having a weird allergic type reaction.  He got welts all over, but they flared up and moved around.  The nurses were baffled.  The anesthesiologist was called.  While he had received some antibiotics during surgery that could have caused a reaction, they felt like the reaction would've been more immediate if it had been related.  They ordered some Benadryl, and we had to stay longer than usual for observation.  We were very hopeful we could go home that evening.

Finally, after some orange juice and a popsicle, we got the discharge papers around 5 pm.  We hit a small snag at the pharmacy drop off, but a call to the doctor amended the Rx and we finally headed home.  Pierce is doing really well - the pain killers make him groggy so he's mostly resting this week.  He's a little sad to have to miss swim lessons, which started on Tuesday, but hopefully we can schedule a class in the fall.  You never want to see your child in the hospital, but I can say that the staff at Lewis Gale were fantastic - they went out of their way to make Pierce comfortable and reassure him.  We are very thankful that we had such a good experience, during a very scary time.  And I couldn't have been prouder of Pierce - he is the bravest little 7 year old I know! 

Monday, June 2, 2014

What's Exciting about Old Dish Towels?

A couple of weekends ago I was at the flea market.  I found a bin full of these dish towel calendars from the 80s and 90s.  I'm sure they'd been passed by many a time, by folks who couldn't possibly have any use for a bunch of old rags.

 But you know what my grandmother does with these?  She crochets around the edges.  It keeps her hands busy, and she enjoys the uniqueness to each one.
 She gave me a large tupperware of them from the 60s, 70s and 80s that she finished some time ago, and I put them in my Etsy shop.  Last fall, I shipped four of them overseas.  My grandmother was delighted to have her handiwork appreciated.  And the buyer reported back how much she treasured them (having bought specific years that were of significance in her life).

So yes, you could say I was excited to find these at the flea market.  My grandmother will love working with them.  And I'm thrilled to bring her some small bits of happiness to fill her days.
Some might say these are just rubbish.
I say rubbish is in the eye of the beholder.
Linked with Rubbish Tuesday.