Friday, May 22, 2009

Have a happy Memorial Day weekend!

Hello friends and family! We're heading out to Lincoln, NE this afternoon to spend the Memorial Day weekend with John's family. The brothers might try to catch a flick tonight, and Saturday we're going to a farmer's market and celebrating cousin Sass' birthday! Sunday the brothers have band practice, and sometime during the weekend I'd like to go swimsuit shopping, since Renee and I have both been growing and will need something new for the summer. I'm a little sad that I won't be performing taps on my trumpet at a cemetery to honor our fallen service members on Monday, Memorial Day. But I'll be thinking back to all the years I did, and especially my favorite years having my youngest sister as my echo! We rocked! I mean, it sounded very professional. Drive safely and have fun, and to those we'll be seeing this weekend: see you tonight!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Homemade laundry detergent

Although chun-beeks is primarily a brag spot for Renee, a whining spot for Mommy, and a place for me to share some of my favorite recipes, some of you may have found time to do a little exploring and found some other interesting tidbits. Along the right side of the screen, you'll find various lists of some of our favorite things; pictures, music, books, websites and blogs. Today, while catching up with one of my favorite blogs: The Simple Dollar (all about being frugal), I ran across a recent post in which the author made a video about "How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent". I had read the original post a long time ago, but it is much more compelling when you visually get to see how easy it actually is!! I just wanted to share that with everyone, since it actually looks pretty fun to do and can save us money on something we buy on a regular basis!

Also I've been trying to upload some pictures from last weekend, but for whatever reason I'm facing some technical problems (or user error?) that I can't overcome just yet. Stay tuned, the pictures will be really fun once you finally get to see them!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Random pics: Easter in Lincoln

We were excited this year to celebrate Easter with John's family out in Lincoln, which actually served a threefold purpose. Seeing family for Easter of course was one of the highlights, celebrating 2 birthdays (John's sister Deb and Renee's cousin Sofia's 5th) was another fun day, and getting "The Schtick" together for band practice was the third goal of that weekend.

The Schtick currently has original members (and brothers) John, Jeremy and Tim, plus a few new ringers to fill in for drums, bass and other rhythm section needs. They will be performing for Jeremy's brother-in-law's wedding reception in early June. Unfortuantely no paparazzi were permitted into any of the rehearsals, I'm sure for fear of them being caught partying more than practicing! Although we don't have any pictures of them to share yet, the band did release an official statement this week saying that rehearsals "sound good" so far. Their groopies (a.k.a. wives and immediate family members) are very excited for the upcoming wedding and performance!

On the road between Lincoln and Cedar Falls, Daddy hooked up Renee's new "Leap Frog Learning Pad" to some headphones.

Thankfully we didn't have to hear her clicking on the same alphabet letter over, and over, and over, and over again! She sure does look tech-ed out though!

Playing in the backyard at Sofia and Melena's house! Cousin Posie came over and the weather turned out to be great!

(Renee's mom wasn't heeding caution about kids having lollipops while playing!) Melena and Renee played very nicely together on the swing set!

Time for the egg hunt! Melena and Sofia were fast and furious!

Renee took her time, but had a ball!

Again, all tech-ed out! Renee is watching a movie (probably her new favorite, Pinocchio) during the drive home. We sure didn't have anything like that when were were kids!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Random pics: Easter in Cedar Falls

My stay at home moms group had an Easter party for all our kids. It turned out to be tons of fun! Renee really loved coloring the eggs and making crafts. (Mommy enjoyed the grilled cheese sandwiches and yogurt for lunch!) This was the second time she'd ever done an egg hunt before but she started to catch on pretty well when she realized that the eggs had candy inside them!

The hunt is on! You can see many of the eggs hidden here, since the egg hunt was divided into 3 year olds and younger, then 4 and older got to start later.

One of the take home projects was a homemade Easter basket! Gluing on the puff balls was hilarious, I had to be careful since Renee, as most kids do, loved to play with the glue as much as "use" it!

Stringing beads is one of Renee's favorite activities!

The way they set up the egg coloring was genius! Little q-tips with dye already on the tip were set inside plastic cups. No big cups of dye to knock over or spill. I think it was really a special store bought kit, like PAAS, but it was way less messy than any of us moms expected!

The artist focusing on her work.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Random pics from the past 3 months: Indianapolis

I finally got John to help me upload the pictures and videos from our other camera, and there are lots of jems on there you haven't seen yet. So join me in a series of flashbacks though the past few months!

This was during our trip to Indianapolis back in February. During the 7 hour drive, we made a quick stop at a fun park along the way to stretch our legs. Here, Renee is in her own little bubble world!

Renee and her cousin Griffin had fun playing this game together. Somehow they managed to share fairly well from what I remember!

Also while visiting Dr. Fischer and his family in Indianapolis... Here you see Renee and Apollo playing tug-o-war with a dog toy that belongs to their little chihuahua Wednesday. I'm not sure how that monkey toy survived to keep its tail! Or did it?

The cousins all hanging out together, Griffin, Gavin, Jackson, and Renee. It looks like Jackson had better things to do!

Snuggling with Apollo on the couch. Wait a minute, who let that bad dog on the couch??

The kids had some slick moves while dancing to video game music! Way too cute!

Monday, May 11, 2009

pregnancy pitfalls

I wanted to do another post with pictures I've been long overdue to upload... but I feel like barfing. John told me to write about this instead, just to keep you all informed. Aren't you happy? :) "Morning" sickness strikes me whenever it's been too long between meals, so I try to eat regularly, but to satisfy to beast growing within me, that could mean eating every two hours! Anyhow, I need *another* snack, so please pardon me for leaving so soon, but check back tomorrow and there should be something more interesting!

Dance Class

Renee started taking dance classes this January. After about two months (attending once a week) she finally started participating in class! Now she usually stays with the other girls (instead of running around doing her own thing). Here they are practicing for their upcoming recital.

Renee is just about the youngest one in her class. I guess I should be grateful she's even trying to pay attention, even if she doesn't follow her teacher precisely!

She's a little hard to spot in this picture, maybe you can see her ponytail?

There's the red-head!

Yes, that *is* Renee, on her hands and knees. She's always so silly at dance class!

Good Eats!

John decided to treat us for breakfast on Mother's Day by making strawberry blintzes! Let me just tell you these were the best blintzes I have ever had, and how special, too, since I've only eaten blintzes at a restaurant, never homemade before. Divine! The next time you come out to visit us at home, we will treat you to blintzes for breakfast!

Friday night, I decided to make an Asian inspired dinner, pork dumplings, with udon (thick Japanese noodles) and veggie stir fry. I had bought a neat dumpling-making-gadget at our local kitchen shop a few weeks ago and wanted to try it out! The gadget actually works quite well! I used an internet recipe for the dumplings and got some advice from an old trumpet player friend of mine who is now a chef about pre-cooking the filling. Unfortunately, making the dough, rolling it out and cutting it takes FOREVER, so I don't know if I'll make these again anytime soon, but they did taste great! And they helped to satisfy my pregnancy craving for Asian food!

Now that the weather is nicer, we're spending more time outside in the yard, working on our garden. Not surprisingly, so are our neighbors, so we're getting to meet some very nice people! There's a retired University teacher, Don, who lives behind us and has a wonderful garden, full of raspberry plants, rhubarb, and pretty soon his tomato plants will be outside as well. He was helping teach me about taking care of our one rhubarb plant (taking off the stalks with the seed pods so you can harvest stalks from the plant all summer). He then gave us a huge handful of rhubarb stalks from his garden! Luckily I'd already had a bunch of strawberries in the freezer and now we had the makings for a delicious dessert, strawberry rhubarb pie! John made the pie himself, entirely from scratch, crust and all, while I was working on destroying the kitchen making the pork dumplings. I've only had strawberry rhubarb pie maybe once before, ages ago, so this was a completely different experience- wow! The sour tart of the rhubarb, and the sweet strawberries, and the yummy homemade crust...Mmm, Mmm, Mmm! I'm sure it would win any contest!

This was taken yesterday evening, while Renee was talking to her Grammie for Mother's Day. John had the excellent idea of giving Renee his bluetooth to put in her ear, making it easier for her to talk on the phone. You have to see it in person though, the picture hardly does it justice! As soon as you give the phone to Renee, she starts walking around the house while she talks, just like a teenager! At least with the bluetooth, it doesn't matter exactly how she holds the phone up to her ear! So adorable! And wow, thinking back to my childhood -talking on those old rotary dial phones- what a wonderful leap in technology!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Daddy's first weekend home

Taking a break in the shade on a warm afternoon.

Best friends!

A girl and her dog.

Our super garden helper, decked out in the propper apparel: Sun hat, sun glasses, sun screen, and her very own gardening gloves!

The firepit (notice the lack of flame?) was fun to sit around and Renee munched marshmallows, toasted or not!

Daddy got back from his business trip last Monday and this past weekend was his first time off work in 2 weeks. Lucky for us the weather was outstanding so we took advantage of it and played outside both days!

Saturday Daddy spent some "man-time" in the garage playing with his motorcycle and changing the oil in his car. Renee had been reading a new book from the library about a kite festival and begged Daddy to let us go fly kites, so after nap time we took a walk over to the closest park and did just that. There was a bit of a breeze, but not enough for the bigger fancy kites. Of course the simple, cheep-ee kite flew the best of the bunch! Renee learned very quickly how to run to keep the kite up and how to yank on the string to straighten it, and stand still and hold on tight when the wind blew in big gusts! She had a ball!

For dinner we decided to grill burgers, and later got out the fire pit and roasted marshmallows and made S'mores. It was fantastic! Except... the firewood was just too wet and wouldn't really stay lit. Then at the end of the night the fire pit actually cracked and the bottom fell out of it. Talk about a bitter ending to a sweet day! Daddy thinks we can still salvage the firepit, but it will have to sit directly on the ground, and is no longer easily portable in it's metal cage. Bummer. But it was fun while it lasted!

Sunday we hit the backyard and finally made our garden come to life! We dug up rows and inserted edging to make garden beds, then we planted seeds for radishes, carrots, bell peppers, basil and cilantro. We're working on another bed for tomatoes, and would like to do another one for some beans. So far our biggest predator is Apollo, since he can't resist digging in the freshly turned dirt!

The weather has been warmer finally, actually into the 70's over the weekend and yesterday and today were in the upper 60's, so still very comfy! Our driveway is lined with trees that are now bursting with beautiful little white flowers, and last week we enjoyed little purple hyacinth popping up in the backyard! Spring is finally here!