Tuesday, June 30, 2009

4 Generational Camping

Pics to share, pics to share, each to their own, we all have our flair-

-Can you tell I've been reading a little too much Dr. Seuss lately? Along with the constant rhyming riddles I've been forced to invent, I'm not sure I'll be able to write this post without a little rhythm.- (consider yourself forewarned, and feel free to click the 'back' button now :)

We camped at Father Hennepin State Park, three tents, and G&G in their camper van. The main attraction was Lake Mille lacs, a real doozy of a Minnesota lake! The pics follow, in no particular order-

We all slept through the night, but come daylight the littlest was out of sight.
Bites from mosquitoes cause Eva some grief, but Grandma Spears will cure it with a flat green leaf. (Wild Plantain, in case you'll complain)
Quesadillas with veggies may cause some to get wedgies, but cooking over the fire makes all perspire.
Hope is afloat with Grandma in the boat.
Eva's dearest wish: to catch a big fish!
These beach bums are never done- content all day to soak up the sun.
Eva's hands were crawlin', and Auntie was bawlin'!18 baby loons, and the Great-Grandma swoons.They're biology nerds, and they sure love their birds!Ready for fun galore, Eric pushes us off shore.Great Grandparents are brave to ride this wave.Mama's turn for a ride, babies by her side.Hope lets out a snore, missing the variety to be seen on shore.The whole gang finds gain in a shelter from the rain.And now my story is told, and my fingers are cold. My brain has gone numb, as the late hour makes me dumb. Three cheers for outings with all sorts of stages, we hope we can do this for many coming ages. If not, we'll feel blessed for this one weekend of rest with our loved ones by our side taking in the tide, watching the little ones dockside, happy to abide. The End.

I love baby shoes!

I'm shamelessly promoting a new baby shoe company (like Robeez, only less expensive) and a great blog that I regularly read. Over at Keeper of the Home, there is a giveaway going on until Friday, July 3rd for a pair of Bugaloo Kids shoes. I know there are several of my readers with little babies who might like these shoes! Go over and check it out!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Why boys don't want to play with girls

Over the weekend, we had a pleasant get away with some of Eric's family at our friend Hannah's lake cabin. Everything was wonderful, except for the weather (minor detail, right?). By Sunday afternoon the kids had played about 1,000 rounds of Guitar Hero, gotten thoroughly bruised and battered in wrestling matches, and cut a rug in more dance parties than we could count. Finally, Eric suggested they head outside despite the vicious wind and play "that super hero game" that the boys had been playing the day before. I cannot do the game justice, since I know next to nothing about superheros and even less about video games. The game is a combination of every cool video game they know and all imagined and yet-to-be imagined superheros. It has many, many levels, portals, and antidotes. No, I don't have any idea what that means.

Rewind to earlier in the day, Eva had sulked out to chat with Eric on the dock (away from the indoor ruckus that is 8 children and 7 adults in one cabin). Eric asked her if she was having fun. She responded with a somber voice, "Yeah, but why don't Evan and Ethan want to play with me?" Eric says, "Well, boys like to play boy games," or something. "What were they playing that you wanted to play with them?" A loooong explanation by Eva ensues, elaborating on fat men, super powers, blah, blah, blah. "That super power game."

So, the kids go out to play, and this time Eric is going to be certain that Eva gets to play along. Here's how it went...

Ethan (11): This finger's a chainsaw, this finger's a knife, this finger's a gun, this finger's a sword, this finger's a bomb.

Evan (almost 6): I have tornado power. If I do this, my tornado power will knock you down! What's your super power?

Eric (30): I have lightening fists and laser eyes. What's your super power, Eva?

Eva (4), thinking for a moment: Mom power! (I take this as a compliment)

Eric: So, you must have super hugs?!? Do you have any other powers?

Eva: Yes, ballerina power. When I put my hands up like this (arms above her head in a circle), that's ballerina power.

Ethan: Yeah! When you do that, we're gonna want to run away from you.

And Eva was wondering why boys don't like to play with girls....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Campfire Cooking II

We had the privilege of a four generational camping trip this last weekend. I owe much of my love of the outdoors and adventure to my mom's parents, Grandpa and Grandpa Knudtsen, so it was an absolute joy to camp with them and watch them ignite the excitement in another generation. Grandma refuses to slow down, so even at 78, so she initiated hop scotch, squirrel in a tree (a family game), treasure hunts on the beach, swimming in the lake, tea parties, biology of crayfish and caterpillars lessons, and more. Most of her rendezvous were with Eva, who is completely enamored with "Grandma Whatsy" (Eva's special nickname) and cannot wait to go camping with her again. She tells me that, "You probably think that stuff is boring, but Grandma Whatsy doesn't." I told her that Grandma Whatsy taught me (almost) everything I know about outside stuff, and that I wish I still had the eyes of a child!

Anyway, more pictures to come from that trip, but the subject of this post is COOKING. So, here we go with some of our campfire creations at Father Hennepin State Park. We were celebrating my dad, sister, and brother in law's birthdays on Friday night, so we splurged a little and maximized the yum!

The menu for the evening was steak, veggie k-bobs, fruit salad with mint vinaigrette, and mississippi mud cake. We also had Newman's Own organic sparkling lemonade, which I highly recommend for a summer treat.

When it comes to steak, the cut is so important (not that I'm any expert about beef or anything...)! I didn't marinate these, but because Eric and Jon carefully watched and did not overcook them, they turned out amazing. A good cut + diligent grilling = carnivore's heaven.

I seasoned the veggies (zucchini, bell peppers, and baby bella mushrooms) lightly with garlic pepper, and threw them on the fire. Initially, the veggies were over the open fire, but the men changed direction mid course and put the meat over the flame and the veggies over the charcoal. Don't you like the way they rigged up a little charcoal grill off the side of the fire pit?
If you're curious about mint fruit salad, here is the link and a lovely picture. The salad is light, but the several unique flavors mingled together make it very intriguing. It is best after chilling overnight!

The birthday boys and girls picked their cake- Mississippi Mud. I was a little nervous to try this recipe, since one can never get measurements to be exact when you're camping, but it turned out delicious. There was a layer of yellow cake, a creamy chocolate pudding, and the topping was walnuts and chocolate chips. Of course the topping-topping was whipped cream. You can never go wrong with whipped cream, right?!? I made this in the dutch oven, but I didn't snap a picture until it was all out and lit up. Looks like fun!
Since this was a birthday bash, I toted along a fitting centerpiece. Eric complained the entire two hour car trip about how "stinky" the flowers were, but they looked beautiful and rustic for our outdoor dinner party. Many thanks to my neighbor, who's gardens provided the cheery blooms.

We ate, opened presents, laughed, and talked... and a good time was had by all!

****More pics to come soon, including a few more interesting campfire creations and lots of caterpillars****

Thursday, June 18, 2009

early, early, early morning musings

Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a FALL.

Some of you readers may remember sitting around eating pizza a few nights ago while I told the story of my sister, which I found both horrifying and laughable (sorry, sis!). The mental picture of a woman very pregnant falling backwards off a tall bed... really almost as funny as a moderately pregnant woman falling flat on her face under the spotlight of a motion detector in the almost dead of night.

I mean, why would anyone be awake at two in the morning? Awake enough to notice that the garage door was wide open. Probably someone who was awoken by her toddler crying out for WATER and of course had to relieve her own pregnant bladder.

Later, someone might ask why a young women with child would even go to investigate a dark, but open garage by moonlight. Granted, she doesn't exactly live in the ghetto, but things do walk away sometimes and more than one car lock has been tampered with around those parts. She didn't even bring a jumbo flashlight with her... you know the kind that is made of steel and takes FOUR 'D' batteries and would strike someone dead on contact... the kind that is sitting right by the back door to the garage? But as her husband informed that someone, "she doesn't really think like that."

If a thorough investigation had been done, Sherlock would've discovered that it had been raining; perhaps the patio was slippery. He might have found shreds of a bath towel gripped by the rough cement. A probable question might be, "Why a bath towel?" A likely answer would ensue, "One needs something to wear when hopping out of bed in the chill of the night!" Our detective would eventually observe very long strides between footprints leading away from the garage, stopping still at a very large imprint of a pregnant lady's body, face down on the wet cement.

After questioning the neighbors, irregularities would be revealed. The next door neighbor, who normally returns from his late shift around 12:30 AM, would confess to arriving home a little after 2 AM. He might even be able to recall seeing a woman with a relatively large abdomen streak up the sidewalk in a frenzy, furiously clutching a pasty green bath towel. And then she disappeared... or maybe the whole episode was a mirage. It seems conclusive that the young woman would NOT want to be seen almost naked in the spotlight of the motion-detector by the borderline-creepy old neighbor.

Upon questioning the young women's two small children the following morning, the story would be retold with intensely somber faces, explaining that their mother's fall was no laughing matter. They might even draw attention to the wounds their mother received, which the children look upon with the utmost respect. They would assure you that the baby is OK inside the mother's stomach, as this was their first concern after hearing the harrowing tale. The oldest child would explain that when a pregnant woman experiences a great fall, she should pay special attention to the baby... that's what they did on Little House on the Prairie, after all.

Further investigation of the woman's home would lead one to believe there had been a raid of the medicine cabinet congruent to the outdoor fall incident in the previous night. The largest band-aids one has ever seen would be found in the trash, soaked with blood. Three (yes, three!) different topical creams lay scattered on the bathroom shelf, keeping company with a big box of band-aids and a bottle of extra-strength Tylenol. One would never have guessed this same woman had given birth to two children without nary a needle injected or pill swallowed. The looks of the bathroom tell a different story.

Eventually, one might even talk with the women in question. Her confession would be short, but the wisdom gained would be eternal: Never, never sigh with frustration at a young child crying over a skinned knee (those owies HURT). Never underestimate your children's compassion as you hobble through your day, bruised and with weeping wounds. They have hearts of gold! Always expect such things to happen just when you have a day in which you must be on your feet the entire day, even pushing the world's heaviest Costco shopping cart. Always gravely reconsider leaving the house for any reason after you've already gone to bed. And lastly, never stifle laughter over the misfortune of someone else (sorry again, sis!), as "pride goeth before a fall!"

(unless, of course, you're giggling to yourself right now. Because really, the situation was rather comical... as long as it wasn't your pregnant belly that was landed on and your knee that is the size of a cantaloupe. :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fun With Short People

I LOVE preschoolers. They are full of imagination, agendas, creativity, spontaneity, curiosity, wonder, and are extremely open-minded! While it can get a little frustrating at times to keep up with such a creature, I surely enjoy tagging along. I love that they have a basic grasp of how the world should work, so they are relatively easy to keep in tow (unlike a toddler, at times, for example). On the other hand, they are coming at life with open arms, ready to participate in whatever new and intriguing thing crosses their path. In the past few weeks, we've had lots of great preschool moments to savor and celebrate!

1. Centennial Lakes Park kid's shows (every Tuesday and Thursday through the Summer) and splashing in the fountains...
(Hey local friends! Please join us- we plan on going almost every week!)
2. Shaving cream!
3. Our newly sprouted butterfly. A Mourning Cloak Butterfly, who is really hard to get a good picture of!4. Kids in the kitchen, "cooking" Ants on a Log.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Dawning of a New Age

Something is really out of the ordinary around here today... OK, something funky is definitely going on...Clearly this wasn't going to be a normal Saturday at home, so the girls and I opted for this instead...
And this...
And this, as well...
Forgoing nap time and quiet time, indulging in a picnic lunch of McDonald's cheeseburgers and grapes, we played our hearts out... all afternoon.

When we finally returned home, we had just enough energy to return to normal routines for dinner on the patio, baths, and hitting the pillows like a ton of bricks.

And in the wee hours of the morning, long after the girls were dreaming of their sunny adventures (and three Home Depot runs later) Eric has transported us into a new age of order and cleanliness. I'm sure we'll all adjust very well to this new addition! Thanks, Honey!
***We were thrilled to be joined at the park by Heidi and Novia and the Wetzels. Sadly, I was too focused on sun burning my shoulders to take pictures of them. :( ***

Friday, June 12, 2009

Campfire Cooking I

Welcome to the first in a series (I hope) of posts all about our adventures in outdoor cooking! With summer upon us and the camping season in full swing, there should be many opportunities for outdoor adventure and lots of photos to share. I have a big interest and a small love affair with outdoor cooking, everything from hot dogs over the campfire to charcoal grilling to "gourmet" dishes in the dutch oven. This is a nice "in between" summer with no little baby to attend to at the campsite, so I am revving my engines for some tasty food adventures along with a few more active endeavors nearby the campsites. Finally Adventure Mama lives up to her name (wink, wink)!

Two weekends ago we camped with our small group from church for a few days. It was a great, relaxed kickoff to the camping season! Although we asked everyone to provide their own breakfasts and lunches, we attempted to serve the dinners. Ashamedly, I admit that I used the exact same menu we've used at small group camp outs before. Thankfully, we're not sick of it yet! Here's some of what filled our plates, chins, and bellies (in our bellies, I mean. Unless you're pregnant and you find that everything lands on your belly...).

Dinner #1 is Foil Fajitas, which are perhaps becoming a signature dish for our family. Even when the guys go camping without the gals (but the gals still prep their food, of course :), foil fajitas are requested. It is a simple recipe really, and super satisfying. As an added bonus, most of the prep can be done at home, making your time around the campfire even more relaxing. The basic idea: tortillas, sour cream, cheese, lettuce, and a foil packet of fajita seasoned strips of meat, bell peppers, and onions. Throw the foil (securely closed, of course) on a low fire for 10 minutes or so, and then put it all together! This picture really makes the chicken look unappealing, but this is the only visual aid I have to offer:
And don't forget to chop up some fresh and zesty pico de gallo before leaving home. There's nothing better on a fajita!I generally go the easy route and serve pre-packaged rice and beans as a side (just add water and boil). However, dessert is much more exciting!
Now is where this lovely relic comes into play- an old fashioned dutch oven with legs. I believe mine is the 12" variety. I have my Grandma Knudtsen to thank for this, as she surprised me with it as a Christmas present several years ago. Although this one was brand new, I'm told that they last for many generations and a dutch oven celebrating it's 150th birthday is a real charm to cook with. Picture yourself cooking in style with legendary figures like Davey Crockett, Caroline Ingalls, and Paul Bunyan (well.... maybe not:).

This is what it looks like as it baking a delicious cherry cobbler, found at my favorite site for dutch oven recipes. 350 degrees of pioneer goodness, right there! And here is the finished cobbler- I toted along a can of whipped cream to top it off. Unless, you're a certain privileged 2o month old and you get things just how you prefer them: all whipped cream, no cobbler!Dinner #2 consisted of BBQ chicken over the fire, green tossed salad, corn bread, and baked beans. I have no pictures of the BBQ chicken, thanks to the fact that I was so distracted by my flaming arm hairs and smoke filled lungs while tending the meat. Frankly, I've decided this dish is not to be made by the faint of heart, and one should be very attentive to the quality of fire you're working with. We had a few majorly charred chicken thighs mixed in with the rest...

My version of baked beans? Easy as dumping a can of beans in a pot and finding an open flame.
Tossed salad? Make sure to remember to bring a cutting board and decent knives.
The cornbread involves the dutch oven again, so of course it is fun and rewarding. Here's the finished product-
After it's all said and done, a nice after-dinner nap is in order. Right, Hope?
Thanks, small-groupies for cooking with us and letting us boss you around! Here's to more grubbin' to come!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Filling in the Gaps

I didn't do much blogging in April and May, but there were many things that I wanted to record. Since my goal is to use a blog like a journal/scrapbook/baby book, it wouldn't be cool to just slack off forever and never make up for it, right? So, sit back and prepare for an onslaught of miscellaneous pics designed to capture the tidbits and minor details of life!

We celebrated my Grandma's birthday (Dad's mom) one weekend at the end of April. Eva never misses an opportunity to help blow out some one's candles, with her great-grandma no less!


On a different note, the girls just can't get enough of what they've coined, "The Shaky Dance." As soon as Eric arrives home from work each evening, the girls beg for the Shaky Dance, in which Eric sings a little ditty that goes something like, "Shaky Dance, Shaky Dance, we're gonna do the Shaky Dance..." while he does a bouncy little jig, complete with super high knees. The act usually ends with a little lady tossed into the couch cushions. I've been unsuccessful at capturing this on video, but I should keep trying. You all need to see with your own eyes how committed this Daddy is to making his girls giggle!

We've done a lot of bat swinging over the past month- correction: We've done a lot of pitching. I don't think I've swung the bat once. Here's the intense little ball player.


Remember those strange food-safe markers that Eva received as a birthday gift? Here she is exercising her creativity. The green lips are proof that she's really letting her inner artist out :)!


Our church meets in a school building, so there is always lots of setting up and taking down to be done each Sunday. The girls LOVE a ride on the sound equipment box as Eric wheels it down the hall. Eva and Hope are joined here by Hope's BFF Hazel.


Eva loves to dress up in my clothes. This time she actually looks presentable when a maternity shirt becomes a smocked sundress. It helps that she matched it with my only stylish high-heeled shoes!


We had a busy Mother's Day, but spent a few nice hours at an ice cream shop and park with my family. Eric busied himself with his own mosaic work of art-

The three mamas.

Sweet sisters.


Eva and I attended a Spring Tea at church one Saturday morning. We have been reading the Felicity (the American Girls) books lately, and being a colonial American girl, Felicity often participates in the very formal tea ceremony. You can bet Eva was totally thrilled to dress up in a fancy dress and go to a real, live tea party. She actually loves tea, but the very best part for her was the chocolate dipping sauce and fresh fruit.... or maybe her favorite part was watching the girls who participated in the "talent show." She is full of admiration for older girls who dance, recite poetry, and play violins. Being a little girl is so much fun!


We were honored to be asked to be godparents to Owen August Boldt, son of our dear friends Ryan and Jacque. On Mother's Day we celebrated his dedication and snapped this singular picture.


That's all!