Tuesday, June 26, 2012

50 Shades of May

So almost the end of June seems like a fantastic time to do a recap of the month of May. Hey, at least it’s not September!

May was a great month, obviously, because it was my BIRTHDAY MONTH. Duh. But in addition to my birthday (month) there were some other highlights.

We kicked off the month of May with a Promotion Party in the USA for GI Joe. After having a carrot dangled in front of him for the past 2 years and lots of other unspeakable stress, it finally came to fruition. We had to travel to Council Bluffs , where my smom, sister, and dad happen to live, to attend the promotion ceremony. My family came to the ceremony and GI Joe’s mom also went with us because I guess it never gets old seeing your kids succeed whether it’s a school concert, a football game, or a military promotion. The promotion ceremony was short and sweet and the kids and I got to “pin” his new rank on him in front of his recruiter peers, my family and his mom. Although, I’m gonna be honest here, it’s velcro so it was really just for show but you can bet I went all “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH” on him when it was my turn. Of course, I took cupcakes to celebrate. It was quite a sight, all these tough looking men in uniform clamoring over a pink cupcake carrier for the first cupcake. It was a great day spent with our family and seeing GI Joe accomplish something he’s worked so long and hard for. If you knew what he went through a year and a half ago with his job you’d know how well deserved it is and why it was such cause for celebration.

The kids could hardly contain their enthusiasm. 

Don’t worry no matter how high up he gets, I still outrank him…or so I think. :)

To celebrate, on the way home, we stopped at a farm store that we don’t have around here and we bought this guy. Because nothing says “Good Job! Congratulations! Well Done!” like a baby turkey.

His name is Black Ops….obviously. We also got some chickens, ducks and most importantly, a gosling, for me.  You know, as a promotion present for ME because everyone knows that behind every "kind of a big deal" guy there's a woman, making sure he's doing it right and providing comic relief and/running out of gas to help take his mind off of stresses of his military career. I've earned it. 

So this is my gosling...Ryan. 
Ryan..Gosling.  You follow? 
Hey girl....

Then of course the following week was MY BIRTHDAY. I wish every day was my birthday. It was delightful, as always. Even though I turned *gulp* 34!
Clearly, I acted my age.

Followed shortly thereafter by Mother’s Day. I gotta tell you, I’m not crazy about my birthday being so close to another holiday so I’ve always made it ABUNDANTLY CLEAR that the two are NEVER to be lumped together unless expressed preapproval from me is given and the only time that would/will happen is if he’s buying me a beachfront cottage in Hawaii for my birthday/Mother’s Day or that white 4 dr Jeep Wrangler I’ve had my eye on. I’m not high maintenance, why do you ask? The thing about Mother’s Day is that it’s not my favorite, like AT ALL, since my mom died in 1999. No matter how bad I try to not focus on that and instead focus on being a mom myself, it’s like I wake up on Mother’s Day with this dark cloud over me, a big ol’ lump in my throa, and unreasonably high expectations for my family to make it all better. So here’s how Mother’s Day went down.

It sucked (half of it). I cried (a lot). I got over it and ended up having a really great day. I don’t even want to relive the first half of it and how badly my children hurt my feelings or how I asked GI Joe at one point why I even bother trying to be a good mom (uhh yeah rough morning) so instead I’ll show you this. 
Just when you think you're a complete failure as a mom and have raised disrespectful, uncaring, heartless kids (I don't actually think that about them but Mother's Day morning, umm, that's exactly how they were acting) they go and do something like this.  Blade made this flower bed completely by himself.  Everything from collecting the bricks from around the farm, deciding where to build it, tilling up the soil, mulching, and planting the flowers.  It was pretty much the sweetest thing and I will love it forever. 

Then we went fishing because that’s what we do on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and basically any sunny day in the summer. And by fishing I mean, I basked in the sun reading my book while GI Joe untangled lines and put on lures. Perfection.
As if.

The day was salvaged and I ended the day with all 3 kids cuddled up next to me on the new porch swing they bought me and that GI Joe put together.

Next year though? I think we’ll just call it Sunday instead of Mother’s Day. Lots less pressure.

Then school got out and we started on our Summer Bucket List, which I will share with you at some point. 

And to finish off the month, our friends the Stew Crew drove the 3+ hours to come visit on Memorial Day! I’ve mentioned my BFF Heather before, she brought her whole family to visit the Koons Zoo.  Sidenote:  When she got out of the car we looked at each other and realize we were wearing the exact same thing.  Hilarious.   Her kids love coming to our house as they are oppressed city kids (or so they think) and it was a first time visit for her husband Jody. You know those friends, that you can just sit around and do nothing with and still have the best time? That’s what the Stewards are to us. It was the most relaxing, low key, fun day. Oh and Heather got a kiss from Holy. Do we know how to show our guests a good time or what?!?!?

Oh and did I mention that Heather and I have already arranged the marriage of my Ryder and her daughter Rylee?  Cuz we have and we're going to have THE MOST beautiful grandkids.  We just have to keep working on convincing the two of them that arranged marriages are totally fine and that it will really make high school so much less stressful since they won't have to worry about who to take to Homecoming and Prom, they can just take their future spouse.  They aren't exactly sold on the idea yet but we'll get there. 

For the wedding reception slideshow

I heart May, one of the best months of the year.  The End. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Food Friday

Another awesome blogging week for the books....not.  No excuses just haven't blogged this week, the end.  Here are some things I HAVE done this week though:

*Spent, no joke, 15 minutes looking for my sunglasses.  Found 'em...on top of my head. 

*Bought two guinea chicks.  Guineas are those obnoxiously loud birds that are put in with chickens to create a ruckus and make all kinds of noise to warn when a hawk or other predator is nearby.  I just bought these because they were pretty, not so much for chicken protection but whatevs.  They're names are Violet (because she's a lavender guinea) and Grinder (as in Guinea Grinder...GI Joe's favorite sandwich at the fair..yeah we're sick in the head.) I'll show you a picture next week. 

*Let my baby get on a plane to fly to Nashville to meet my new nephew (his new cousin) Jensen, before I do.  See? I'm a selfless mother if there ever was one.  Well, he went to do that and to hang out with Bryan, Hilary, and Micah as per  annual summer tradition.  Either way I'm jealous and miss my Ryder terribly.  But not to worry I'll be there too in just 6 DAYS! 

*We're in the single digits vacation countdown and you know what that means?  File folders, spreadsheets, and packing galore.  I LOVE IT.  Vacation starts for me 1-2 weeks ahead of time because all the PLANNING!  THE SPREADSHEETS!  THE PACKING!  THE SHOPPING I HAVE TO DO BEFORE I CAN FINISH PACKING!   It's like a prevacation because it makes me so happy.  Type A much? 

*The bacon bouquet I made for GI Joe for Father's Day was a hit!  See?

He loved it. 

Also for Father's Day, we bought him a new suit. While he loved it (seriously, he's been wanting a suit, you know for when he runs for [resident and stuff), I think it was more of a gift to me..and to the world...because WOW.  As tempting as it may be try not to make this picture your screensaver, that could be awkward.  Not that I'd blame you of course, I'm just sayin'.  (Oh and horse face circa 1996 I am especially talking to you.)   

He brought in the MIB Neuralyzer on all his own.  When Tommy Lee finally gets too old to star in more MIB movies (he's already there) I think we've got a suitable replacement.  Ha, suitable?  I crack myself up.

Then we celebrated Father's Day just like we celebrated Mother's Day...by going fishing and my torturing them with pictures.  There's just no respite from my camera crazy self. 

Worth it.

Anyway, Food Friday.  Let's do this. 

Blade is my little baker.  I know, big brown eyes, cute, smart, athletic, AND CAN BAKE?  Jesus, take the wheel, I'm gonna have to amp up the crazy momness to keep the girls away.  He is also just like his father in that he has a mighty sweet tooth.  So when he told me he was REALLY REALLY craving some brownies I went to one of my favorite blogs to make your teeth rot and searched for brownie recipes.  And once again, she did not let us down.  Blade whipped these up and we ate them until our stomachs hurt, they were dare I say, the BEST BROWNIES I'VE EVER HAD.  For realz.  

Come along with me on a fantastic brownie voyage.  

Slide slide slippity slide.  Sorry couldn't help myself.  I heart Coolio. 

So back to the brownies. 

from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen
 2 packages (roughly 20 oz each) brownie mix — I always use Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge 19.9 oz boxes

12 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Frosting:  Forget the sprinkle of powdered sugar on top of the brownies, it's time to get serious, it's time to FROST those brownies. 
1 1/2 sticks butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
5 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325. Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil. (We used a glass pan, no foil and it worked fine.) Spray bottom with bakers spray (the kind with flour in it) OR butter then flour bottom of foil lined pan. Set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, place both brownie mixes, buttermilk, melted butter, eggs and vanilla. Mix with a wooden spoon until fully combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.

3. Bake for about 45 – 50 minutes, until edges look set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs but not batter. Cool for at least 20 minutes, then frost.

4. Make Frosting: Melt butter in a medium sized saucepan over low heat. Whisk in cocoa powder and milk. Cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens and JUST begins to boil. Remove pan from heat and slowly add the powdered sugar, whisking until smooth. Pour over brownies and spread quickly. Let set before cutting brownies.

Blade followed this exactly and it was perfection.  The layer of frosting is almost as thick as the layer of brownie and the brownies are fudgy and dense.  In other words, heaven. 

I mean, you kinda have to trust a face like this when it comes to these brownies. 

Happy Friday!  Have a great weekend!  Know how?  Make these brownies!  And then bring me some.  K?  Thanks. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Food Friday

This is an extra special Food Friday. Not because of the recipe, the recipe is great and all, but just because of the happenings taking place this Friday. Let me list them for you, shall I?

*I have the day off to hang with the kids, my friend Denise and her daughters which includes my namesake. We’re going to be marking some things off of our Summer Fun Bucket List. Super excited. I love summer Fridays off.

*It’s Father’s Day weekend and I have THE BEST surprise planned for GI Joe. He doesn’t usually read the blog (he gets to live it firsthand) so here I’ll show you…..
photo from ourbestbites.com

A BACON BOUQUET Genius.  This will definitely be speaking GI Joe's love language

*It’s the best sale of the year at Bath and Body Works. DO IT. I can’t help it I’m a BBW hoarder. But I seriously have not replenished my stash from there in ages because I’ve been trying to be less of a hoarder. And I’m finally running out of everything. So this weekend? It’s GO TIME. 

*In addition to the phenomenal sale at Bath and Body Works, it will be a multipurpose trip to the mall because one of my other favorite places to shop (for my kids), Children's Place, is having their Monster Sale (40% off everything PLUS I have a coupon for another 20% off). You guys, I’m not good at math but that is A LOT of percentage off and probably means $3 shirts and $5 shorts. Although truthfully, why do I bother since I’m raising a nudist?

I realize it's Father's Day weekend and probably not the most appropriate time to be shopping for the kids and myself but the way I see it, I like to smell nice for my husband and I want the kids to be well dressed since they represent him and all.  Also, I don't really have anything to worry about because 2 words....BACON BOUQUET. 

Anyway, on to the recipe of the day.  This is Ryder's absolute favorite meal in all the land.  My friend Ronda gave me the recipe years ago and since then I've basically claimed it as my own, and one time I accidentally did it in front of her.  Oops.  But the beauty of Ronda and I's friendship is she didn't get mad and is totally fine with calling it "our recipe."  I love her.  I blogged about this recipe as a guest on my girl Jessie's blog a LONG time ago but it's worth revisiting.  But you should also go read that post, I'm a dork.

Crockpot Pizza
12 oz.  kluski noodles (or really any egg noodles made by the Amish, I'm not even kidding)
1 lb. hamburger or our personal preference, Italian Sausage
Other pizza toppings as desired (we never have CPP without adding pepperoni but canadian bacon, mushrooms, olives, all of the above are great as well.)
26 oz jar spaghetti sauce
14 oz jar pizza sauce
Italian seasoning to taste, I usually add a healthy pinch
Garlic salt, a good sprinkle
a pinch of sugar, just a tiny pinch (have you ever seen such exact and precise measurements?!?)
LOTS of cheese, like at least 2 cups but more is better (mozzarella, pizza blend, cheddar, or a little bit of all of the above)
Parmesan cheese, a good shaking on top of the other cheeses at the end of each layer

Follow the package instructions to boil the noodles.  Drain.  Brown hamburger or sausage, drain.  Spray the crockpot with Pam and then put just enough pizza and spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the crockpot to keep things from sticking, a very thin layer.  Add the rest of the sauces to the hamburger or sausage.  Add in spices if desired.  Layer half the noodles in the bottom of the crockpot, followed by the meat/sauce mixture and any other pizza toppings you want, topped with half the cheese.  Repeat.  Put the lid on and cook on low for 4 hours or on high for 1-2.  Serve with garlic bread or breadsticks. 

So filling, so comforting, and easy enough for an 8 year old to put together.  Another Summer Fun Bucket List item is each kid plans the menu and cooks dinner.  Ryder chose this recipe because he loves it so much and with limited supervision (hello boiling water and splattering sausage grease) he did it all on his own and was pretty dang proud of himself.  This will be the recipe that someday he'll whip up when he's trying to impress a girl.  I can see it now, a candlelit dinner for 2 and a crockpot filled to the brim with this cheesy, warm, goodness.  Between this and those eyes of his, poor girls don't stand a chance.  Let's just hope (and pray!) that he's outgrown his umm, immodest ways by then.  ;)

Happy Funday Friday!  And a Happy Father's Day!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Naked Truth

You know that kid  in the locker room that cowered in the corner and tried to change clothes in such a manner that they were never exposed in any way? 

That will not be Ryder.

You know that kid who runs through the locker room, laughing and yelling, buck naked while making everyone else in there uncomfortable?

That will totally be Ryder. 

Homeboy has a problem.  He is not a fan of clothes.  He seriously turned down playing baseball this summer when I informed him that he could not wear swim trunks to baseball practice and that he'd have to wear shoes.  Apparently clothes+shoes on a regular basis in the summer=no deal.  He has always been like this and once the temp outside hits above 60 he's in swim trunks and shirtless.  Inside, year round it's pretty typical for him to strip down to just his underwear the minute he walks in the door from school.  A common phrase around our house is, "RYDER, PUT SOME CLOTHES ON!"  Poor Dakota to have to grow up the sister to an  exhibitionist.  That 5th grade Health class about the anatomical differences between boys and girls?  Didn't even phase her. 

Lately though, he's taken it to a new level.  Or should I say UNlevel. 

Yesterday, I told him to go do his outside chores which included watering the emus and taking care of the chicks in the chicken coop.  Granted, when he left me to go do his chores he was wearing nothing but his boxer briefs because that's what he'd "worn" all day.  I mumbled a half hearted "put some shorts on before you go out" but knew it was falling on deaf ears.  When he came back inside awhile later, gone were the undies and in their place?  Umm NOTHING. 

"I got all wet when I was watering the emus so I just took my clothes off before I finished the rest of my chores."
"And by clothes you mean JUST your underwear right?"


"So you're telling me that a) you stripped in the yard and there is a pair of underwear out there right now and b) you went in a chicken coop FULL OF HENS to gather eggs and take care of the chicks COMPLETELY NAKED?"

"Yeah, so?  I got my chores done!"

"You could've gotten PECKED on the.....pe...arm!"  (Keep it clean here people what did you think I was going to say?!?)

Why would they peck me just because I'm naked?"

"Never mind, but please tell me no one drove by when you were outside NAKED?"

"They did but I hid. I'm gonna go exploring now."

"Ok but you HAVE to put on some clothes and SHOES before you go."

Five minutes later I saw him traipsing through the pasture...in a fresh pair of underwear and Nikes.  He listens well, but at least he had on underwear and shoes, that's progress right?  I would've taken a picture but well, this is a G rated blog, you understand. 

What age do they start charging with indecent exposure again?

He's going to stay with my sister IN THE CITY next week and I have already had the "when you're in the city you CANNOT run around naked. That is frowned upon and you could be ARRESTED," talk.  I am not above using the LAW to scare him straight or clothed as the case may be. 

His reply?  Deep sigh followed by, "Do I have to wear a shirt?"

Good luck sis.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Food Friday

Happy Friday!  Here are some things that I've done or have happened around the Koons Zoo this week:
*I put Ryder up for adoption on facebook and craig's list because he brought a "leopard frog" in THE KITCHEN to show me as i was happily eating my Blue Bunny I Do I Do ice cream.  A FROG. IN MY KITCHEN.  I do not have the cardio strength to be the mother of boys.

*Fingerpainted our picnic table, it's so much prettier now...until it rains. 

*Made soap clouds.  Awesomeness.  I'll give you the full scoop on this soon. 

*Called the vet to ask if it was possible for our fainting goat to be impregnated by our llama.  (Would that be a Lloat?  A Gama?  A Fainting Gama Loat?  I'll let you guess the answer.  Full transcript of THAT call coming soon.

*Made root beer floats.  I forget what a simple joy in life this is, especially with A&W Diet Cream Soda and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.  Hello summer.

*Oh and most notably?  I decided I want to be a runner and then went running 3 nights.  And with that I think we know what the temperature in H-E-double hockey sticks is right now.  More on this later.  Also, I still can't walk correctly. 

AS you can see it's been a fun filled week, but I didn't want to skip a Food Friday.  Especially when I have the perfect summer recipe for you.  It's simple, delicious, portable and makes the perfect lunch, dinner, snack for when you're lounging by the pool or fishing at the pond or a picnic in the park.  My BFF Heather and her family came to visit us on Memorial Day (a visit deserving of its own post) and I made these sandwiches for lunch.  And that may have been the highlight of the day, well, besides the shooting stuff and the watching GI Joe scare the fainting goat, Oreo, so she, you know, fainted.  "Do it again that just never gets old!"   Heather has since emailed and asked for this recipe and if I'm not mistaken has made it for her clan at home.  It's really good, guys. 

Tailgate Sandwiches adapted from here
(I usually half the recipe for the sake of my waistline, so these measurements are according to that)
1/2 stick melted butter
1/2 t. mustard powder (or ground mustard as it may appear in your spice aisle.  Also, feel free to add a little extra, a little extra mustard powder in this recipe never hurt anything)
1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce (I usually add an extra splash or two for kicks)
1/2 t. poppyseeds (as long as you don't have any upcoming drug tests! Poppyseeds=failed drug tests)
1 package Kings Hawaiian dinner rolls
1/2 lb ham (sliced or shaved)
1 cup cheese, shredded or sliced (I usually use cheddar or colby jack but mozzarella or swiss would work too)
Mix the mustard powder, the W sauce, and the poppyseeds in with your melted butter.  Take the rolls and cut them in half so you have a top half and a bottom half.  Take the top off.  Layer the ham and cheese on the bottom half of the rolls.  Replace the tops. You now have a giant sandwich!  Put the rolls in a 9x13 or larger pan.  Brush the melted butter mixture over the giant sandwich being sure to drizzle down the sides, use it all.  Cover the rolls with foil and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until cheese is all melty and gooey.  If you want them to look even prettier, take the foil off for the last couple minutes so they can get brown and a little crispy on top.  And that's it...EAT UP! 

Have a great weekend my friends!  I plan on soaking up soaking up some sun, running (I know, who am I?!?), baking, and squeezing my goat's thingies and by thingies I mean udders?  teats?  per the vet's instructions.  Yeah, you read that right.  I promise that will be a blog post you will not want to miss.  Enjoy your weekend no matter what you're doing even if it's not as exciting as violating your goat!  :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

He's Like the Wind...Mill

I’ve never been a helicopter mom, you know a mom that hovers and never lets her kids out of her sight and always has them in arms reach. For a couple of reasons, I’m just not wired like that and because, have you met my kids? I wouldn’t have a prayer. Not to mention there are THREE of them so I’m totally outnumbered. I respect those kind of moms because frankly, it is a lot of work. Now that’s not to say that I sit in my locked bedroom eating bon bons while they are left to fend for themselves in the wild, it just means that I don’t have to have them in eyesight at all times, they’re kids, kids need space and freedom to explore and yes, occasionally get hurt. It happens and when it does I doctor them up and make it all better or just give them a bandaid, some Neosporin, and a popsicle, it's like magic!  I was a kid once and my mom was not a helicopter mom and wouldya look at that? I survived. Given the location my kids are being raised, I would be ruining the perks of growing up in the country if I didn’t let them out of the yard and had to accompany them everywhere. Just my opinion of course.  And now that you think I'm a negligent, unattentive mom here's the rest of the story.  :)

So far even with my horrible mothering skills, knock on wood, we’ve had ZERO broken bones, ZERO stitches, ZERO ambulance visits (for them, for me and the barbed wire well, that’s another story) . And if you could see how tall the trees they climb are and how steep the hills they like to ride their bikes down are, you’d be amazed. I’m amazed. I was an oppressed city girl who had more broken bones before I was in 5th grade than the 3 of them combined have had their entire lives. I think it’s more about coordination (which luckily they inherited from their father) than it is location. But man, my kids, like to tempt fate. Especially this one.

Oh what's that?  You can't make out which kid it is because he's so tiny in comparison to the giant tree he climbed?  That would be Blade. 

This kid is FEARLESS, with a capital F-E-A-R-L-E-S-S.  Seriously.  Haunted Houses?  Scary movies?  Spiders?  Snakes?  Boogie Man?  Heights?  Super high, fast, curvy, upside down roller coasters?   Bring it, doesn't phase him.  Obviously, he's my clone. 

We should’ve known when he was 3 and hauled his bike to the top of the twisty slide at the park and RODE HIS BIKE DOWN THE TWISTY SLIDE.

Oy. Have mercy. It does make him a lot of fun to take to amusement parks though and pretty unshakeable on the football field. But I digress.

The other day he informed me, “Mommy, guess what? I climbed the windmill.” (Yeah, he’s a 10 ½ year old boy and still calls me Mommy and if you make fun of him for it I will cut you. :)  )


“Yep, I did, it wasn’t that hard.”

“But it’s so….so?..HIGH. And old and howdoyouknowitssafe and isn’t it wobbly? Was the wind blowing because if the wind was blowing that probably made it even more wobbly” Just because I’m not a helicopter mom doesn’t mean I can shut off the momness.

“No it’s not, it’s fine. Come on I’ll show you.”

So I did what any normal mother would do, I grabbed my camera and my phone (you know in case I had to call 911) and said, “OK, let’s go but you have to be careful!” Right, cuz he’s all about safety first.

And this is what happened.
 He did it. Then he looked down at me and smiled and waved as if he were standing on the front porch instead of 130* ft in the air. (That is an estimation, could be more could be less. Probably less, a lot less, but it definitely felt like more when my brown eyed baby was at the top of it.) And then I started to get nauseous because it was so high and what if he fell and please for the love of all that is holy KEEP BOTH HANDS ON THE WINDMILL AT ALL TIMES!?! Then I had to start breathing into a paper bag, I’m not a heartless mother after all.  I don't know why I was worried, I mean, he had his soccer shinguards on after all.  You know, just in case the windmill gave him a swift kick in the shins.  *eyeroll*

When GI Joe got home that night I showed him the pictures and was expressing my disbelief that Blade would even consider climbing the windmill let alone actually doing it…TWICE…that I know of.

And GI Joe very nonchalantly said, “We used to do it all the time.”


So THAT’S where he gets it.

Lord, help us all.