Friday, September 30, 2011

Free LDS Printables...

Dear Sisters,

I don't know how many, if any, of you have discovered Pinterest, the online pinboard site. I am in love with it. The internet is so full of fabulous photos, inspiration, tutorials and insights, it can quickly become daunting to find the things that really speak to you. Enter Pinterest. You sign up (for free) and create your own virtual bulletin boards. You can see anyone else's bulletin boards as well. It's a great way to keep track of your favorite things online and see the great things others found.

On Pinterest last night, I came across a blog that has great free LDS-themed printables. You can print them yourself or send them through Chari's company, Persnickety Prints, to be printed. The blog is called Proclamation Pictures.

Here's one of the freebies offered:


Love, Kate

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekend Recap and the Coveted Recipe Revealed

Dear Sisters,

I can't believe that you have already come and gone! I've been looking forward to your visit for over a year and now it's over. Hard to believe. We had such a good time and I'm so grateful that you were all able and willing to come. I truly loved spending the time together with you and Dave and mom and dad. Molly, we so missed you.

Here are a few photos of our memorable weekend:
The bike ride to the beach.

Canoe Races

Mom and Dad

Paddlers Extraordinaire
 I tried to include photos from the lighthouse, but they kept inserting sideways. Huh. I don't know. Anyway, we enjoyed some fun food during your visit and several of you asked for recipes. Here's one of my faves from your visit:

Roasted Red Pepper-Basil Pesto (compliments of Bobby Flay)

You can roast the red peppers as he does. Obviously, that's preferred. If you're typically short on time (like me), you can use the jarred variety. 
  • Roasted red peppers (the equivalent of two peppers worth)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Put the peppers, garlic, basil and pine nuts into your food processor or blender and pulse until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and pulse to emulsify. Add the cheese and salt and pepper to taste and pulse few more times to combine.

We have used this recipe for everything from pizza sauce to a dip for crackers and veggies to a sauce for sandwiches (as we did during your visit).

I can't wait to hear what you do with it. I'm excited to share with you next week the recipe I found for laundry detergent. I wanted to test it out before I shared. After using it for about three weeks, I really like it and haven't had any problems. So, next week it is.

I had such a great time with you all and thank you for the fun visit.

Love, Kate

p.s. LOVED the tomatillo salsa you made while you here, Ames. And Dave, LOVED the stuffed jalapeno poppers you made...even it it did take me hours to recover from the heat.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Sometimes I feel like when I talk to my kids about their behavior, it's always to talk about the things they have done wrong. When I saw this post on 71 Toes, I knew I wanted to make up our own awards that we could hand out once a week. On their bedroom door, we have each child's name and then a space below where they can display the award for the next week until they're awarded again. We usually hand them out at Family Home Evening, which we have every Monday night. When we announce the awards we try to talk about a specific thing the child did to earn that award. I'm hoping that this will help reinforce good behavior. We tried to create awards that would encourage the specific behaviors that we struggle with or that are especially important to us as parents. Here are the awards we've come up with for now.

Cheerful Charlie: This goes to a child who has made good efforts at being cheerful and helping our home to be a happy place.

Busy Bee: This is for someone who has been especially helpful around the house, doing their chores, etc.

Self Starter: This is awarded for doing good things without having to be asked.

Fleet Foot: For quick obedience.

Brilliant Bookworm: (Should have been Brainy Bookworm, but I didn't think of that until recently.) For doing their daily reading cheerfully and consistently.

Choose the Right Champion: For making the right choice even though it's sometimes hard. I'm hoping this will prompt the kids to talk more about their days at school.

Reverent & Respectful: For showing the right respect and reverence at church, but also for family prayer, scripture study, etc.

These pictures are from a good week when all the awards were given out, but this past week, only two awards were given. We want them to be genuinely earned, so if that behavior wasn't displayed, the award will not be given. We may add more over time as we want to encourage other behaviors, but for now, these work. I don't know that I've seen a significant change in behavior, but it encourages me to praise more. Throughout the week, I use these terms to identify good choices. If someone gets to the table quickly for dinner, I say, "Good job, Fleet Foot." If someone is speaking kindly and obeying happily, I'll say, "Thank you for being such a Cheerful Charlie." I have a piece of notebook paper taped up inside the pantry door where I can jot down examples of the kids' good behavior, so that I will remember specific examples on the night we give out the awards.

Most importantly, I think it's good for the kids to see what an artistic virtuoso their mother is. The exquisite quality of these awards is sure to be inspirational, don't you think? I mean, that bee looks like it's about to flit right off the page. Many years of notebook doodling are finally paying off.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Our trip to Ikea...

Dear Sisters,

Most of you (minus Hillary and myself) are together in Wisconsin right now. I hope you are enjoying your time away and having a ball together. Wish I were there with you!

We had a crazy trip to Ikea yesterday. Liz (Alex's sister) is here helping us for the week. She is amazing. She is nonstop energy and efficiency and is so sweet with our girls... and I just love being around her. I wanted to go get some toddler beds for the girls while either her or my mom were here helping us. We've been a bit fearful (to say the least) of switching the girls to big beds because of the effect it might have on nap and bed time. So, because of the bed rest situation, I planned on doing the switch while I had someone here to help me with things.

Our trip to Ikea to pick out the beds started out well, but by the end poor Liz had taken the two girls to the potty about 10 times (I counted) and we had a few accidents happen in the process. Then, Eliza had one of the biggest temper tantrums ever while we were checking out. Can any of you relate? It was crazy. And, we missed nap time so the girls were completely wired by the time we got home...

But, check out the cool motorized wheel chair that I got to drive around! Obviously, that was the highlight of the trip.

We'll keep you posted on how the change to the toddler beds goes. I'll send some pictures once we get them set up. It's kind of bittersweet to see my little girls growing up so fast! I'm sure you all understand that sentiment.


Friday, September 23, 2011

The Healing Fields

Yes, I am finally contributing to the blog. Sorry I am so slow. Bear with me as I am still trying to figure out how to do this whole thing. Last week our family went to the "Healing Fields" and it was amazing! I wan't to share it with all of you. With the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11th tragedy, I found myself remembering with deep sorrow the events that took place. It was difficult to watch the programs on TV. However, I was in awe of these people who have overcome so much...survivors of the devestation and loved ones of those that passed on. We saw some incredible stories and watched it as a family.
At the time in 2001, my oldest was only 3 years old. She wasn't much aware and doesn't remember anything from that day. While watching the program we were able to discuss things as a family. It was a great experience and we were so touched by the stories. We then went to the "Healing Fields" which aren't far from our house. This was a park about 2 football fields long that was covered with American flags. There was a flag every 10 feet or so, and one flag for each person that died that day. On each flag there was a 3x5 card of a person's name, occupation, age, and where they died. On most of the cards there was also a little bit that told about them. I couldn't believe how many people there were that died between the ages of 30-50. Hundreds. It was quite an incredible scene to behold all of these flags, people reading them and visibly moved by what they saw. It was hard for the kids to imagine all of the people killed in this tragedy. Seeing it brought it into better perspective and helped them to realize how many people lost their lives that day. It was an amazing experience to have as a family. I am so grateful and proud to be an American.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Things that work around here.....

My first blog post! Yeah! It didn't post on Saturday as I told it to. But hopefully we've since fixed things.

It's been a busy month around our house. School starting means I have a first grader who is learning to read (a part time job by itself!), two daughters on soccer teams, a daughter playing her last season of high school tennis (very intense for two months) and a boy figuring out what he likes / wants to do given his physical limitations. And that doesn't include the school work and college application deadlines. Your lives are equally as busy. So I wanted to share a few ideas that make things flow more smoothly around here in the hopes that it might help you all as well.

1. Laundry: I've tried many things to make this most unbearable of all tasks more palatable and I've finally come down with this: never let a load leave the dryer without folding it and always listen to a good book on CD while doing laundry. Sounds simple but not having 6 loads of clean clothes on my bed to fold at midnight has made me very happy.

2. Dinner dishes: Again, I've tried lots of charts, programs, etc. What works best for us is to have us all help together every night. A friend suggested setting the timer (usu. 10 minutes or less for us) and if we make our goal, rewarding us all with money in a jar for dinner out. The timer and dinner out was a good incentive at the beginning, but the most fun has come from Hannah's version of Taylor Swift songs, Joshua's moves while wiping off the table and the good info we get from our girls about high school romances and what happened during their day. Greg and I have learned about what's in with high school kids from music to clothes to TV shows to technology. It's turned into one of my favorite times of the day.

3. Blitz: I hate all the clutter! Those backpacks, stray socks and shoes seem to multiply. So most nights we pick a few favorite songs (Big Yellow Taxi by the Counting Crows has been Joshua's choice for a good year now, with an occasional Les Mis song thrown in) and we dance our way through cleaning up the stuff. Watching the vast difference between Joshua's groove and Greg's 80's moves is worth the nightly ritual.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Green Smoothies

Good Morning Girls,
I'm sure by the time you read this, I'll be in Wisconsin sharing a long weekend with most of you.  It should be a great family bonding experience.

Last week I took Nate and went to State Fair with dad, Dayna and Logan.  It was so fun to bring our four-year olds and enjoy the smells, sounds and sights of the fair.  I love that atmosphere!  We also had to stop by the Vita-Mix demo and taste the green smoothie..  We all loved it, even the little boys.  I do love green smoothies, not only how they taste, but the nutrition they are packed with.  One thing I learned was that lime is wonderful addition to a green refreshing.  I had to try it on my kids the next day and they really liked it as well.  I think the citrus helps mask the kale taste and I also added more spinach that I have been lately.  I only put in about 1/8 of a lime, peel and all.  Wash it well before using it, but you'll be surprised by the great flavor it adds.  This morning we had another green smoothie and this is what I added: spinach, flax seed, water, pineapple, bananas, apples and about 1 Tblsp. apple juice concentrate with some water and ice.  You all know that I love my vita-mix and green smoothies is one of the reasons why. 

Enjoy your day!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Scooting Dervishes

Our little ones are army crawling and rolling all over the floor. It's amazing and exciting seeing how these little guys have completely transformed in just 10 1/2 months.

Peter and Benjamin chasing me as I try to snap their picture.

Sweet Benjamin

The first year of a baby's life is amazing, and the first year of our twins' lives has been pretty fabulous. It truly has. Having these two little boys join our family at the same time has felt like a miracle to me, and I haven't wanted to dwell on any difficulties at all. Because things really have been much easier than I anticipated. But since we've moved into a new area and are going with a whole new group of people to church and a whole new community at the elementary school, I'm coming to see myself through the eyes of strangers. These people are only coming to know the post-twins Hillary, and I'm realizing something about myself.

Having 5 kids has kind of kicked my butt.

I don't remember things like I should. My house isn't as organized and clean as it should be. I don't always get ready for the day like I should. (Still having not put on a bra at 4:00 in the afternoon is not OK. And to do this while lactating for two babies is REALLY not OK. Unexpected visitors at the door have been scarred I'm sure.) And clearly, I have not been mopping my floor like I should. Does anything draw better attention to the cleanliness of your floors than a crawling baby? Our babies are sliding on their bellies pushing and pulling themselves along with feet and hands. A  onesie that once was white but now is grey with a mixture of dirt and spit is this mother's indictment. Until these babies are walking, I will be obsessed with the state of the floor. As I'm sure you all know, that's just how it is when you have a crawler. To introduce the family to our new emphasis, I thought I'd let the babies do the talking. We've left a note on the front door.

Dear Family,

Now that we are crawling and sliding all around the house 
like scooting dervishes
everything that gets tracked in and spilled on the floor 
ends up on our bellies and hands 
and in our mouths
So, unless you've been walking around in 
mashed bananas and peas, 
(Seriously. Yum.)  
please remove your shoes on the rug inside. 
We will reward you with smiles and giggles. 

Thanks so much,
Peter and Benjamin

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's Tomatillo Time!

I'm so excited to share a new favorite at our home!  We started growing tomatillos a few years ago in the garden.  We only planted them the one year and they've faithfully returned each year since.  I grew them at first so I could make the tomatillo salad dressing we all love.  Then I started experimenting with other recipes, but haven't considered any of them "keepers".  I've finally made a recipe we really like. Drum roll's Roasted tomatillo salsa.  We like it with chips or as a sauce for smothered burritos.    I've decided that the trick is to have plenty of hot peppers in the mix.  That is not the norm around our home...I think we have tender taste buds and don't like things very spicy, but the combination with the tomatillos is perfect!  It's pretty easy to make and as usual at my house, you taste and add whatever the batch needs.  The original recipe is found at Allrecipes here, but I've included the recipe with my modifications below.

1 pound tomatillos (with husks on)
1 onion quartered
4 garlic cloves peeled
4-5 banana or Anaheim peppers (I've even used a bell pepper with the others)
1-2 jalapeƱo or Serrano Chile Peppers (depending on the heat you want!)
Salt to taste
a handful of chopped cilantro

Rinse tomatillos with the husks on and wash the peppers. Put tomatillos, peppers, onions and garlic on a cookie sheet and roast on broil until they start to blacken.  You may need to stir so they roast evenly.  Cool and remove tomatillo husks and pepper stems (and seeds if you don't want it very hot!).  Put tomatillos, peppers, onions, garlic and salt in food processor and blend until slightly chunky.  Heat in sauce pan if desired to further blend the flavors (sometimes I skip this step and it's still great!).  Add cilantro and serve with chips or over a burrito.  Enjoy!

I do want to hear if you try this.  I've made a couple larger batches and frozen it.  I'll heat it and then add the cilantro.  It will make a great winter meal.  I wish you all lived closer so I could share the many tomatillos that currently grace my garden!

Monday, September 12, 2011

They Do Love Dirt...

Dear Sibs,

One thing I know for sure, my boys LOVE to be outside. They love to play outside. They love to sit in the dirt and dig in the sand. They love to pour water into various containers and make mud "coffee cake." They love to explore and discover. They love to pick flowers. They love the swing sticks. They love to gather treasures. They love to build various buildings and benches and contraptions out of scrap wood.

I welcome these loves. I encourage these loves. These loves are of the healthy variety. I delight in seeing their pockets filled with treasures, pockets sagging so low that they often interfere with walking.

I melt when they present to me more wildflowers than I can carry. I smile every time I see the bowls on the table inside the front door filled with the many treasures they have carefully gathered and saved and later explained to their dolls.

We took a beautiful family hike on Labor Day morning. Our peaceful walk through the forest ended at the beach of Lake Michigan and then looped back to the car.

The boys were enthralled and for Rit and I, our cups were filled for the upcoming week. It was the perfect opportunity to slow down, take a deep breath and just be in the moment and enjoy being together without the many distractions of every day life.
When all is said and done, those are the important things. I often have to remind myself what is really important in life, these relationships, this time together, my boys and their loves.

Love, Kate

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Boys of Summer

Fall is in the air here in Twin Falls...well, almost. The days are still warm, but the nights are cooler. This means our house still cools off at night even though our sliding screen door was sacrificed to the rowdy celebrations of Ethan and Jeff's "End of Summer Late Night." I don't know where Ethan learned about late nights, but Ethan wanted to have one with some of his friends to celebrate the last week of summer vacation last week. So we invited over two other sets of brothers who are Ethan and Jeff's age, cooked hotdogs and s'mores, watched a cartoon, and played night games.

All fires at our house are lit with flint. The boys luh-huve it. Does anything captivate little boys quite like fire?

Here is Dave with all the boys...except for Sam and the babes. We may have only had 4 guests attend the bash, but remember we still had 9 little boys in this house. We were grossly outnumbered. :) Dave has his rule the rabble face on.

Here's Sam with his marshmallow alight. He insists on doing most things himself...with varying results.

Here are the boys ready for night games...Ethan was a bit hesitant about wandering around in the dark. By the by, Mom ruled the game of sardines by having the best hiding spot of the night. Huzzah!

Our last week of summer was filled with other fun activities to end the break with a bang. We went swimming at 1000 Springs Hot Springs and also attended the Twin Falls County Fair.
Ethan and Jeff trying to get on the log. They had a blast with this.

Brushing the enormous cow.

They each got to milk a cow!
Time to go home.

And now we've started school, and it's kinda great. It makes for early mornings and a much more rigid schedule, but it just feels necessary. Summer is coming to a close, but we're still enjoying one of our favorite recipes we found this summer. Grilled Pesto Pizza...seriously yum. I found it at a friend of mine's blog called The Farm Girl Recipes. She has lots of awesome recipes, but the Grilled Pesto Pizza is definitely one to try right away. Don't deny yourself the delicious opportunity. I do make her pizza crust with half whole wheat flour, but instead of lots of little pizzas, I usually make larger, oval-shaped ones to fit on the grill. This is largely due to my laziness and only wanting to roll out one pizza. I love grilling the pizza because it keeps the dough crisp and not at all soggy. Try it!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Things I'm Slowly Learning...

Dear Sisters,

First of all, I so enjoy reading all of your posts.  I hope we can keep this blog going because I love getting a different glimpse into your lives.

I am slowly learning some things from being on bed rest.  I think I may have been given this experience for some very specific reasons.  Here are some lessons I am learning thus far:

*Note: #1, #2, #3, and #4 lessons are from the 6 days that Alex was in charge before my Mom showed up.

1. My house does not actually have to be spic and span clean and organized ALL of the time in order for us to have a happy home.  Toys can be left on the floor for days, the carpet and floor can be really dirty, the bathroom can be grimy (especially with 2 three-year-olds using the potty by themselves all day, everyday), and the kitchen can be a bit disgusting.  Permanent marker can somehow find its way onto the kitchen table and crayon marks on the couch.  And through it all, we can all still have very happy, content days.  Who knew?!

2. The girls can eat multiple rotisserie chickens, loads of cheese, cereal, and lots of eggs for days on end (with no fruit or vegetables) and survive.  Who knew again?!

3. Alex can take care of things just fine.  In fact, better than fine.  His way of doing things is definitely not my way in many regards, but his way is good too.  Things truly don't need to be taken care of just the way I see fit and in the time I see fit in order to work out.  I'm embarrassed to say that this is a hard lesson for me to learn.  But, I am learning (slowly) that I can not only hold my tounge when something isn't done the way I think it should be, but also to not let it bother me internally.

4. Alex is a really patient and charitable person.

5. When people offer to help, let them.  I've always loved the quote, "Never supress a generous thought."  If people have a generous thought in the way of helping out me and my family, I should allow them to carry it through.  They probably wouldn't have offered if they didn't really want to help.  Still, it is hard for me to let people help sometimes.

Those are a few things on my mind that I wanted to share.  Hope you are all doing well and that your kiddos are enjoying the first few weeks of school!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

That Time of Year!

Dear Sisters,
It's that time of year again and just when I feel like I'm getting on top of the game, the garden and fruit trees are overflowing with abundance.  We really enjoy eating the fresh fruits and veggies that are a product of our summer long labors, but I also spend time canning, drying and freezing the extra.  I started all of that this past week.  It started with tomatoes on Saturday.  I don't really love to can, but I love the product that we enjoy all winter long.  I love knowing exactly what is in the bottle and that there are no preservatives.  Janelle wanted to learn how to can and so she helped me on Saturday.  It was so fun to be in the kitchen together while peeling tomatoes and stuffing jars.   Even though I don't love to can, I loved the time with her.  It was a time that we were able to enjoy each other while being productive.  It was great!  

Yesterday I canned peaches and I wanted to share with you my new pressure canner.  I have always used a water bath to process when canning.  Last year I got a pressure canner for Christmas and with some reluctance, I've learned how to use it...and it's even safe!  The thing I love the most is that it doesn't make the mess on my stove that the boiling water bath did.  It's great!  I've even processed chicken, and it was easy.  So I've decided two things about is that it doesn't have to be messy and the other is that it's a great time to visit and bond as a family.
Happy canning everyone!
Enjoy your day,

Monday, September 5, 2011

Our New Favorite Recipes

Hi all,

The boys and I decided to make lunch for all of the staff at Rit's school last week. I wanted to share the two yummy recipes we tried out. We made grown up grilled cheese sandwiches and the best cookies ever for dessert. First, I'd better tell you about the sandwiches. I used country white bread, each slice buttered on one side. On one slice, spread ricotta cheese. Here's the pile: First, place the ricotta-spread slice butter side down on your griddle or frying pan. Then add your meat like Canadian bacon or pepperoni. The meat can easily be left out. Pile on some roasted red peppers and fresh basil. Add some balsamic vinaigrette. Top with thickly sliced fresh mozzarella and cap it with your remaining slice of bread. Grill on both sides until browned and the cheese is nice and gooey. They are good beyond description. 

Now onto the cookies. There seems to be a trend lately in baking: salty and sweet. It's a delicious combination. For example, salted caramel cupcakes. YUM.I found the recipe on a blog called Sugar Cooking. Pretzel Cookies with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chips. WHAT?! They are beyond delicious. Be sure to add the salt on top. It's the prefect finishing touch.

Both the sandwiches and the cookies were a big hit. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Love, Kate

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Hard Stuff

Ethan has been working really diligently on earning his Wolf for Cub Scouts. We lost his scout book somehow in the move madness, but now he has a new book and is planning on earning his Wolf in the next month or so. I think he just may do it. He's pretty motivated, so we're striking while the iron is hot. On Tuesday he planned all our meals and helped cook breakfast. This is what it looks like when your 8-year-old tries to flip the fried eggs himself.

I did get some of the egg back in the pan to the right, but we still enjoyed the smell of burning egg on the cook top for the rest of the time it took us to cook the pancakes. Awesome. Luckily it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it might be to clean it. Most of it peeled off, and I got the rest off with a razor blade rather quickly. But this experience of cooking with Ethan (and of course Jeff and Sam who would not be left out) made me face a shameful fact about myself.

I don't enjoy cooking with my kids.

I know! I hate admitting it out loud, or out blog, but it's true. It always starts out pretty great. I get the kids in their little aprons and pull out the mixer, or whatever we're using, and all the ingredients. I feel like such a good mom as we get started. But then as things progress I find it almost painful as they bicker about who got more turns, crush eggshell into the batter, spill half the flour on the counter instead of the bowl, stick their spitty hands in for a taste, etc. I try my darndest to find the right balance of direction and teaching while also letting them do things on their own. You see, my kids (maybe all kids) don't really want to cook with me. They just would like me to give them directions via video conference while they stand on chairs in the kitchen and create perfection all on their own. We have an artistic difference of opinion on that point.

But just because I don't enjoy it, doesn't mean I don't do it. The truth of the matter is that being a mom is not easy. And being a good mom is hard. If we only did the mom jobs we enjoy then no baby's face would ever get wiped, let alone their backside. No screaming toddler would ever get his teeth brushed. No grumpy kindergartener would ever have the knots combed out of his hair. And we'd never get to experience the truly great mother moments that sometimes come after the hard stuff. Like having clean children all snug in their beds.

So I cook with my kids. And it isn't all bad. Sometimes it's fun. But even though I fully remember all the times it isn't so fun, almost every time my kids ask me if they can help me cook, I say yes. Because it's pretty great that my kids want to spend time with me in the kitchen. I know the day may come that standing in the kitchen with me adding flour to the bread dough will not be super exciting. And then I'll wish for a few more of those minutes with my kids standing on chairs up to the kitchen counter. But I probably won't wish for the bickering part. Or the burnt egg smell. Maybe just the beginning part and then the eating part at the end. I'll leave the middle part hazy.