Wednesday, August 26

Back to school

We missed our Back to School dinner last year and that made me sad, so this year we made sure to plan a great day celebrating! So Sunday we devoted to recognizing the kids and the year ahead of them. After sacrament we had a lesson taught by Ellie. She focused her remarks on how Helaman names his sons Nephi and Lehi so they would remember and follow their righteous examples. She then had the kids think of their names, who they are named for and share a Christlike attribute that they exemplify that they’d like to emulate. Jack David is named for grandpa Dave and he said that Grandpa works hard at home and also with his faith. He’s always serving. Ellie Jane is named for Grandma Janie, who is so incredible kind. She finds the good in everyone she meets and makes them feel so loved and important. Charles Thomas is named for Great Grandpa Charles Thomas Booker, who Charlie said “even though I don’t know him, I know he loved America cause he served in the military.” We talked about how that is the ultimate sacrifice to make for others. We also talked about how he developed his talents- he was an incredible gardener! And Owen Christopher, names after his papa, said that his dad is great at cooking steaks. So we talked about how chris has worked hard at developing his talents too. After, Ellie talked about how we also take on the name of Christ at baptism and how we need to try to live up to his example and how important that is to do while at school.

After Ellie’s lesson, chris gave each child (and me!) a Father’s blessing. It was extra special hearing the older kids explain to Owen what a father’s blessing does and how it’s helped them in years past.

Later, we introduced our 2020-2021 family theme, which is Helaman 5:12. Originally we had planned on a quote by Elder Uchtdorf, but it just felt like “this is a great quote”. Then Saturday morning in my personal study I read Helaman 5:12-13 and was struck by the verse and helaman’s desire to teach his children to build their foundations on Christ. I’ve read that verse probably a hundred times, but in that moment I knew that this is what chris and I need to teach our kids right now.

We wanted to make a special dinner and each kid said they wanted their very own steak... chris was definitely on board!

Steaks, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli, fruit, rolls, and chocolate cake.

We took a beautiful drive after dinner and looked at the cows down the road. So dreamy!

The kids started school on Monday!
Because of the way school is happening this year, the bus schedule is kinda crazy. All the kids ride the bus together in the morning and afternoon. Well, except in the morning Owen doesn’t ride because he is in half day afternoon kindergarten, so he rides the bus by himself at 12:45 and then with all the big kids on the way home.

I always said I would be one of those moms that cried when she drops her baby off at the first day of kindergarten- not because I was sad- but out of pure joy! Owen was a HARD baby and toddler. I always say that he teaches me things that the other three never did haha! When he hopped on that bus, I definitely had a wave of emotions, but they weren’t what I thought they would be. It was sort of confusing. Here was my freedom, finally, but it meant I wasn’t with my little sidekick. Or any of my sidekicks for that matter. I’ve waited 14 years to have all my kids in school and now I’m not so sure that freedom is as great as I thought it would be. I’m sure it’ll feel different in a week or two, but for now I’m going to enjoy the fact that I miss my kids.

Owen was so ready to ride the bus! And he’s definitely ready for kindergarten. But the bus. The bus was certainly the highlight for Owen.
He loved his first day and really loves his new teacher, Miss Weaver.

All the kids have had a great first week so far, especially since it was a staggered start so they had Tuesday off. We had cousins over for outside fun and s’mores.
The only thing worth mentioning about the first day was that jack’s advanced Spanish class is held in the high school, which he didn’t realize so he was pretty tardy on his first day, which of course was stressful for our Type A eldest child lol. But other kids were late too, so it was alright. Other than that, Charlie enjoyed his new teachers and the fact that he now gets to use a locker, and Ellie enjoyed seeing her friends again. 

Other happenings this week:

Jack caught a butterfly that let him hold and pet it’s wings!

Owen started a volcano science project and plans to FaceTime cousin Olive when it’s ready to erupt so she can watch it with him!

And I typed up this entire post while sitting at Charlie’s soccer practice. Best multitasking I’ve done in months haha.

Last week Charlie had a soccer practice where he was on fire the entire time. If you know Charlie, you know this is a rare occurrence. But that night, he made every pass, every goal, and even picked the winning team name when the coach had them vote for a name. They are the Thunder. The evening ended with The World Cup and Charlie and his teammate advanced through all three rounds, thanks to three goals he made, and won the World Cup! He was on cloud nine, and it made my heart pretty much explode with joy to see him soaking up every cheer from his teammates and coaches. It was absolutely awesome.

Tuesday, August 18

sunday dinners

 I've been a looooong time reader/follower/obsessed fan of Mel from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. I use so many of her recipes (that's probably an understatement). 

several months ago she mentioned that her family uses Sundays as a day for her kids to practice cooking skills by rotating assignments for parts of the meal. her kids plan their part, make sure they have the necessary ingredients, cook and then clean up their assigned part. 

we have been doing this off and on since then and its really been a great thing for us! here are the assigned portions that get divvied out:

main dish

side dish (usually a veggie of sorts)

bread item (rolls, bread, breadsticks, biscuits, etc) 


I wish I had thought to document this with photos from the start because, although it is usually chaotic and our kids (mostly Owen and Charlie) still need a lot of hands on help to make everything from scratch, I've been so proud of what our kids have accomplished! and the best part, they are proud too!

here are a few recent menus we've had and who has prepared what. the main dish is picked first and then everything else gets picked to go along with it.

 loaded baked potato soup (Ellie), spinach salad with apples onions craisins pecans and homemade maple dijon dressing (jack), buttery pull apart bundt bread (Charlie) and funfetti cake w/ cookie dough frosting (Owen)

lemon roasted whole chicken (Charlie), French bread rolls (jack), mashed potatoes (Owen), salad (dad) and shortbread (Ellie)

chicken pot pie (jack), breadsticks (Owen), fruit salad w/creamy dressing (Ellie), and salted caramel rice crispy treats (Charlie)

grilled citrus and soy marinated pork tenderloin (Owen), lion house rolls (Ellie), roasted potatoes (Charlie), roasted asparagus (mom), and peach pie (jack)

here are a few pictures from kids in the kitchen, including when Charlie was getting his chicken ready. so glad chris thought to take some pictures and video! it was hilarious... he wasn't a fan of chicken skins or chicken cavities

august happenings

we have been soaking up every last minute of summer break! you'd think after a solid 5 months of no school and activities that we would be ready to jump back in... but no, we are not. or maybe I should say that I am not. the kids are ready to be with friends again, but if they could leave out the school and the schedules parts they would :).

here are some things we've been up to the past couple weeks, not in order:

our hydrangeas are in full, glorious, bloom!

Ellie started a succulent garden!
she definitely has a green thumb and if we ever get a garden going, she will be the first and last in the dirt, I am sure of it!

she's also been trying to catch a chipmunk ever since her cousin louie was here. they hatched a plan and she has been trying hard since and come very close!

sunflowers, sunflowers, sunflowers!
yesterday was jack's last official day working with the Powells at 22 Acres Farm. when I drove up to get him after a 9 hour day, they said i'd find him with the newborn calf... he was bottle feeding it. he told me that when we dropped him off earlier that morning he was supposed to check on the calves and when he went into the stall he found one of them dead. we were standing in front of one of the owners when he told me and I was of course very sad and asked him, "oh no! were you pretty sad?" and he was super mature with, "that's all part of farming". but when we got in the car I said "so really, how was it finding the calf this morning? and he said "super sad".

jack will probably go work a few more times before fall, but not on a set schedule.

his best buddy from school, Everett, came to visit him at work one day.

Everett and his sister Addy are moving to Atlanta tomorrow. jack is feeling melancholy about it. he was the one person jack looked forward to hanging out with at school. Addy is a year younger than Ellie but they became good friends as our families hung out. we will definitely miss them!!! 
now, in the back of jack's head, is the question: who will I sit with at lunch?

brother Powell gave Owen a whole bag of "magic sunflower seeds" when we went for our pictures! he quickly found a good spot and he and I spent an hour or so planting. we have several little sprouts, so fingers crossed we get some blooms!

we found this beauty in our garage one morning and it made my eyes water. such a beautiful creature. guessing it got trapped in the garage and overheated.

I recently tried baking Martin's Bagels from King Arthur flour. SO GOOD! yes it does take a couple days, but it was pretty easy and definitely worth it.

ive also been making wheat bread for the sacrament each week since the pandemic began. I usually make 4 loaves, cut them into smaller sections, then freeze them. we pull out a small section on Sunday morning to use. its a wonderful way for me to contribute to our worship.

we went peach picking (in the rain) a couple weeks ago at Legend Hills Orchard in Utica and have been enjoying SO MANY PEACHES

im not a canning type person, which would be the normal thing to do with an abundance of peaches. plus, my kids don't even like to eat canned fruit. so besides snacking and sides for meals, we've made pies, cobblers, peach lemonade and fried peaches with fresh whipped cream

grandpa doesn't do too much mountain biking anymore so he surprised us by shipping his bike up here for the kids to use. they LOVE it!

Owen thinks he's a pretty tough kid on his bike and here's a video proving it!

this sunset took my breath away the other evening. within 4 minutes it went from blazing orange to the most intense pinkish cotton candy color. beautiful! it was a great night for jack and chris to help our neighbor with his yard work.

sports have begun once more! Ellie has been doing cross country since June and soccer started back up this week for the boys! we've been tossed back and forth regarding whether or not the health department will allow soccer to start up again, plus many of the age groups don't have coaches, but things are coming together this week to get things started. Charlie had his first practice last night and he is on coach Jon's team again this season and was pretty happy when he discovered that!

Owen is still waiting for a coach, so right now he is having the big boys set up drills for him to practice. this morning he was out in his boots, a shirt, and no pants doing some drills!

we celebrated my birthday a couple weeks ago! 35! I dragged everyone to shake shack and Gap so I could grab a new shirt. they were thrilled. lol.

I had to include a picture of this card from my folks because it made me laugh so hard. my mom knows how much mice torment me. since moving to ohio, they have become my biggest fear. we haven't had any mice since the three we had when we first moved in (besides one in a trap in the garage this summer), but I still have chris set traps all over our house. around every corner and in ever cranny you will find a trap, just in case! they even haunt my dreams. im 100% paranoid.
this card was perfectly picked.

after playing horseshoes and badminton, chris surprised me with a Whit's frozen custard cake. yum!

a few weeks ago Owen walked behind Charlie while we were playing horse shoes right as Charlie was winding up for a toss. the horse shoe made contact... with Owens eye. we've enjoyed seeing many shades of purple and green on his eyelid ever since. 

school starts on Monday next week. 
we were in denial that our summer is almost over, but this week decided it was time to do school supply and shoe shopping. 

we will have one kid at the elementary school (its about darn time! Owen has been ready for kinder for years it seems haha!), one at the intermediate, and two in middle school. 
our district gave each family the choice of going back to school in person or doing school online. we decided to go in person, but I won't lie and say we didn't go back and forth on that when coming to our decision. quite a few factors went into our decision but ultimately, our kids seem to do best academically when they are physically with their teachers (and peers). we feel that our district has done a great job putting safety measures in place, plus our kids are healthy and active. so we will give it a go and have said a few prayers that all will go well. 

this week we are doing individual dates with each of the kids as a last hurrah for summer! Ellie wanted to go get Key Lime Pie custard at Whit's, Owen got burgers and shakes at five guys, jack is going to go mountain biking, and Charlie wants to get pancakes at Bob Evans.