Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Round 'em up!

Bethany's birthday celebration this year was extra special for all of us. She has been wanting to go horseback riding and be able to ride alone without sharing a horse with one of us.

We found just the place. The kids also got to brush their horses and put their saddles on, before a quick lesson and an adventure on the trail.

You can see for yourself if you want to. She had so much fun! Who am I kidding? We ALL did!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (a.k.a. Cracker Barrel)...

...we took a quick little stroll down memory lane.

and played checkers on their big, lazy porch.

Bethany went to work beating Dad...

...while Ben plotted my demise.

I suspect I'll get a rematch, because I'm quite sure Bethany will want us to go back!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Playing Catch Up

Holy buckets have we been busy! I hope you're ready for a random update!

The kids had a big party at school on the last day. (Two and a half weeks ago. Did I mention I'm behind?) Here they are with their friends. So happy!

The week we had Vacation Bible School, we also had a huge family week. My brother and his family came back from Senegal (if you need to look that up, check in West Africa), where they have spent most of the past 20 years. We will have them living close by for the rest of this year. YEA! That week my dad's wife, Jeannie, was here visiting her son's family, so we all got together at their house. Here's a little peek at our fun.

The kids obviously adore their cousins, but (shhh!) I'm pretty sure this is their favorite "cousin". Meet Casey.

Last week I got to spend a girls' day with some very sweet friends. One of them lives on a lake, so we relaxed on the beautiful porch and took a ride out in the boat. It was amazing. Especially since we've been madly dashing around to kids' stuff. It was so nice to have an event of my own.

That's enough for today. But there's more. "Y'all come back now, ya hear?" (Extra points to anyone who remembers where that's from.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hello cupcake!

Each year I throw a "friend" birthday party for one kid, and they trade off. This was not Bethany's party year, but we always do something special as a family (more on that coming soon!), and make sure we honor the child with the birthday in some way (i.e. make a cake and find someone to share it with). The cake on Bethany's birthday post was at Aunt Dayna's house, and it was scrumptious! It would have sufficed perfectly, except that I had already told Bethany we would share a birthday treat with her soccer team.

Bethany loves chocolate chip cookie dough, so we found this very cool recipe for cookie dough cupcakes. Made with a cake mix and a cookie mix. Easy peasy. You can make them with any combination of cake flavor (or brownies!) and cookie flavor, scratch or mix, really. And put anything you want or nothing at all on top of them. The real wow is on the inside.

Bethany wanted vanilla cake and chocolate chip cookie dough. I had a mix for chocolate chip oatmeal, so that's what we used. And chocolate buttercream frosting. From a can. We're fancy like that. It's really very tasty! So here's what you do.

1. Buy or make your cookie dough as directed. One cookie mix is about half of a regular recipe, and we had enough leftover for the mini-cookies we baked and put on top. Place 2 dozen tablespoon sized dough balls on cookie sheet, and chill in freezer. The recipe we found recommended to freeze them for two hours, but we cheated it down to maybe 30 minutes and had no trouble.

2. Make your cake batter as directed.

3. Fill 24 cupcake cups about 2/3 full with cake batter.

4. Place a frozen dough ball in the middle of each cupcake. The batter will cover the dough while baking.

5. Bake at 350ºF for 18-20 minutes, until tester comes out of the cake part clean.

Decorate as you wish. Photos with ideas are here. Expect rave reviews!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Nine years ago...

...this baby girl

took our world by storm,

and turned this daddy

into an old softy.

It's only fitting that they should celebrate together.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl.

Happy Father's Day, amazing dad.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Back from the ranch

We've had a great week at Vacation Bible School. These are my two favorite ranch hands. They had so much fun. :-)

The music is my favorite part. They just break out in song randomly throughout the day. "On Saddle Ridge Raaaanch, discoverin' whenever I need answers, God is the one to aaaaaassk! On Saddle Ridge Raaaanch!"

Amen! Ask away.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Remember I told you about the I Heart Faces photo walk I went on with the pros and their awesome cameras? Did I mention that I was slightly intimidated with my little Panasonic point and shoot? Well, there was a photo contest for each city (20 of them) that hosted a walk. The leaders had to choose from all the amazing shots that were posted, and guess what? Here is the winning photo from our walk...it's mine!

Do you think it might have had something to do with the heart? I just happened to notice the other group above us shooting that, and shot right back up at them. That's the thing I enjoy about I Heart Faces. All the photos and photographers have so much HEART!

Too bad I didn't win the drawing for the BIG prize--a Tamron zoom lens. I was gonna have to buy the camera to go with it. My husband has been known to say, "I'd rather be lucky than good!" I kinda get what he means. But I'm very honored and inspired to keep learning with my point and shoot.

Thanks again, I Heart Faces, for a great event and daily inspiration!

And now, I'm heading over to the Vintage Pearl to spend my gift certificate. When I get my prize, I'll post a picture of it. :-)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rites of passage

We had a special occasion to celebrate today.

I'll give you a hint. It is NOT my extraordinary growth and achievement in badge ironing. (Although perhaps a little recognition would be in order. Because the leader entrusted me with half of the new sashes and all the little numbers and stuff to go on them. I must be doing something right!)

There's a big hint. If you're not a former Girl Scout or mom of one, I'll just tell you. Bethany "flew up" today from Brownies to Juniors, in a very simple and sweet "bridging" ceremony. I thank God for organizations like Girl Scouts, especially their leaders, that assist us in our job of character development with our kids. Bethany declined to be photographed for the occasion. I hope THAT'S not another rite of passage!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Canon or Nikon?

Um, well, actually neither.

Yesterday I was hanging out with the pros. Me and my Panasonic. It was so much fun.

Molly and Bill did a great job of finding a beautiful place for us to learn some new photography tips. They brought along a model to pose tirelessly for us, but they also showed us how to make the most of the beauty we each brought along with us. I think I appreciated that part the most.

One of my favorite things to take pictures of is the people who don't know they're in the pictures. Check out those cameras!

The extra bonus was that my cousin Shelley came with me. She really is a pro.

Here's a picture she took of me.

My set of photos from the day is here. Can't wait to put what I learned into practice with my favorite models.

Thanks to Amy and Angie at I Heart Faces for dreaming this up, and Molly and Bill for organizing such a great event. If photography is your passion, or even a little hobby, head over to I Heart Faces for some inspiration!