Monday, August 31, 2009

Back to School

Today was the day! The day for schedules to begin again, alarm clocks to rudely wake us up, and (most importantly) the day to wear the NEW clothes! I've got a kindergartner, a 3rd grader, and a 5th grader this year. So exciting for them all! (And I know I should have taken the time to edit and crop these pictures, but quite frankly, I just didn't have the energy to do it.) Prepare yourselves for a truck load of first day photos.

The kindergarten kid! He's so excited and ready for school. I'm sure he is just going to love it. And quite honestly, I'm not nearly as emotional about him going as I thought I would be. He's just been so bored at home, it's time, and I'm happy for him.

The 3rd grader! Can't tell she's excited can you? Oh Halle, she's such a crack up.

While Alyssa was getting her hair fixed, Jarom snapped this adorable picture. I just couldn't help but put it up here.

And finally the 5th grader! My word WHERE does the time go??

School, here we come, ready or not!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Movie Review

I always love a good (or bad) movie/book review. Things I know are a must see/read, or for that matter, a must not. So today, I'm telling you all, you must see "Julie and Julia". It's adorable! I really had no desire to see it. None at all. I grew up watching Julia Child on PBS on Sunday afternoons, but I really didn't care enough about her to see a movie based on her life.

Jarom has this thing for theater popcorn. He gets a craving and there is no stopping him. He doesn't care what show is playing as long as he's got his popcorn. It's quite hilarious really. He makes the theater attendant fill the popcorn bucket up only half way, then he runs over, butters and salts, tosses a few times, then comes back to have the bucket topped off with popcorn and then pours more butter over the top. I've got to admit, it is the tastiest popcorn around, and it makes me giggle every time I see him "perfecting" his half filled bucket.

So anyway, Jarom's popcorn craving hit with a vengeance this weekend. The only show that looked even remotely decent was "Julie and Julia". So we went, but I just knew it was going to be boring. I ended up loving it. And I adopted a few new life mottos, "I have A.D.D., that's why I'm such a bad housekeeper.", as well as, "I'm growing right before your eyes." LOL! (Meryl Streep has never been better.) All of you bloggers out there will love it too. So go see it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Huckleberries are a big deal around these parts of the U.S. They only grow in the north western States and western Canada. They taste like a really intense blueberry, (but way better than a blueberry).
We've enjoyed our fair share of huckleberry ice cream, shakes, and even candy bars, but we've always had to pay big bucks for them. So this year, we decided to go to the mountains for a day and pick our own. We dawned our Halloween buckets and took off to a secret location shared with us by Jarom's parents and brother. (Good locations are kept more secret than US Military maneuvers. Count yourself very lucky if a huckleberry picker shares their spot with you.)

The kids were troopers for a really long time.

Then some of us got bored and hungry and decided to just plop down in the middle of a bush and eat their hearts content. (Seriously, this kid probably ate over 100 berries.)

Don't just reach your hand into a bush without looking! This little hornets nest was a buzz with activity.

You can tell if you've been good little workers by the color of you hands. (Around my fingernails is STILL purple.)

We came home with a full gallon and at $10 a pint to purchase, we figure we have $80 worth of berries. We've washed and dried all our delicious little purple berries. We've made homemade shakes twice, huckleberry pancakes, and huckleberry pie. Now we have 10 more cups of frozen little goodies waiting to be used throughout the year.

Huckleberry picking is a lot of fun and I find it very relaxing. But the best part is just being alone with my little family.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ending Summer with a Splash

We finally made it to Ross Park this summer. It was the very last day they were open all day long, but still we made it. We had a great time. And don't you think goggles make for the best pictures?

This picture cracks me up! Little sassy pants and her fun loving brother.

After a full day at the swim park, we decided to hit the water again. This time the river, with Grampy's boat.

Brancyn is a little water baby. He wasn't afraid of anything.

The kids all had a great time floating around in their life jackets. They weren't bothered a bit by the nasty river moss algae gunk floating along side them.

Walking on water. There was one high spot on the river that we hit EVERY time the boat got near it. We tried all sorts of different routes, but I swear, the sand bar moved and was determined to take out the bottom of our boat.

And you can't go boating without tubing behind. Such fun! (Even though I never got in the water. I am content as can be just watching everyone.)

When the sun goes down, it's time to go home.

Heartfelt Condolences

Since I know some of you used to read Kori's blog before she went private, and some of you even checked out the auction held in her honor, I wanted to let you know that her husband, Richard, passed away early this morning. I am sure that Kori and her boys could use some thoughts and prayers at this time.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

One of those days.

  • Get to church on time...check (miracle!)
  • Notice son with soup spilled all over shirt...check
  • 3 year old pee her panties...check
  • Run home to get changes of clothes for Carter and Kate...check
  • Notice Carter doesn't have any clean clothes to change into....check
  • Throw vest and tie on top of soup spill for Carter...check
  • Get back to church...check
  • Told by friend that your own dress is ripped...check
  • Stay at church wearing ripped dress because you have no more pride...check
  • Have zero plan for singing time in primary...check
  • Sweat so bad leading music in primary that your hair curls....check
  • Be thankful you are wearing a black nylon shirt so that no one can see your sweaty pits, and chest, and back...check
  • Have to fill extra time with singing because sharing time was a little short...check
  • Sweat a little more...check
  • Go home filled with the spirit...hmmm, check?
  • Go home with a headache...check

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Holley Manwaring Reunion 2009 + SLC

It is SO time for me to post about our latest family reunion. We weren't planning on going and then VERY last minute decided we'd give it a go. Jarom quickly logged onto priceline, secured us a hotel room, and off we went to UT for the weekend.

We drove straight to our hotel and on the way passed a Holiday Inn Express that had a giant water slide coming out the side of it. The kids started squealing at the sight. "Is that OUR hotel!!??" Alas, it was not. Ours was a block further down. Let me tell you, when we saw OUR hotel, we were less than impressed. Dirty, scary, stinky, pretty much disgusting, AND it had one, I repeat one, double bed. I hadn't even packed blankets for the kids; there was no way this room was going to work for our family. We used the potty (without touching too much), packed our suitcases back into the truck and headed to the family reunion dinner.

We were delighted to see Aunt Shauna and Josef whom we don't get to see very often.

The kids had a blast with these "slinky bubble blowers". It was just a plastic bottle with the bottom cut off, and then a piece of cloth rubber-banded on the end, filled with bubble solution. The bubbles would come out in big, long slinky looking things. Kate never quite got hers figured out. She'd put it to her mouth and THEN inhale, sucking in a mouthful of bubbles.

The traffic cones provided much entertainment for the little ones.

Kaylee, Camille & Louis's daughter.

After a few short hours visiting with family, we decided something needed to be done about our sleeping arrangements. So, we broke down and booked 2 nights at the fun, water park Holiday Inn. It was well worth the money and I know we will definitely stay there again.
Our kids swam for HOURS, while I read. (Well, tried to read. I can't relax around water very well.) There was a big water tube, a kiddie pool, 4'-5' pool, 3' foot pool, and giant hot tub to boot. Lots of fun.

As much fun as swimming was, we had to get out and do a few things. As we were driving around we saw this crazy double decker bike. I just couldn't help snapping a picture. It was so bizarre.

And we HAD to eat at Pat's BBQ. Jarom saw this little joint featured on Food Network a while ago and really wanted to try it out. Had we not seen this place on t.v., I don't think all the money in the world could have made me go inside. It looked like a hovel. But, on the inside it was so fun. (I didn't get any pictures.) And WAY bigger than it looks from the outside. The food was great. We say our number 2 pick for best BBQ, only to be beat by Bodacious BBQ in Gilmer, TX.

We also took some time to see our UT cousins the Murdochs. It was so fun to join them at the aquarium and for ice cream.

The little river explorers. Silly kids.

All in all, I think our weekend was a great success and I'm glad we got to sneak one more fun vacation in before school starts.

Try-It-Tuesday Mango Chipotle Roast

We tried a recipe from Semi Homemade with Sandra Lee this past weekend and man was it yummy. It's definitely a "have again" meal!

Mango Chipotle Pot Roast
Click here to see a picture.

I did do things just a bit different than she suggest so I'll add my two-bits in parenthesis.

1 3- to 4-pound boneless beef chuck roast (I would salt and pepper and seer this next time.)
1 tablespoon Montreal steak seasoning, McCormick® (I found a chipotle flavored one.)
1 package (16-ounce) frozen mango chunks, Dole® (I used dried, found by the raisins in store.)
2 medium red bell peppers, sliced into 1/2-inch strips
1 medium onion, sliced
1 jar (16-ounce) chipotle salsa, Pace® (I found a pineapple, mango, chipotle flavored salsa.)
1 can (11.5-ounce) mango nectar, Kern's® (This is by the non refrigerated juices, comes in a pop can type can.)

Hot cooked orzo or egg noodles (optional)


Sprinkle roast with steak seasoning. (And salt and pepper, we found it really tasted so much better with a little bit added.)
In a 5-quart slow cooker, combine mango, bell peppers, and onion. Place roast on top of fruit and vegetables.
In a small bowl, combine salsa and mango nectar. Pour over roast.
Cover and cook on LOW heat setting for 8 to 10 hours.
Transfer roast and 1/2 of the mango and vegetables to a serving platter. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Transfer remaining mixture in slow cooker to a blender. Cover; place a kitchen towel over lid. Blend until smooth.* (We put some of the reserved juice in a pot and boiled it a few minutes to let it thicken and reduce. Was delish!)

Serve with hot cooked orzo or egg noodles (optional). (We used orzo and I absolutely love the combo!)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Shooting Stars

Last night the kids and I cozied up on the tramp and watched the stars shoot across the sky. It was a dazzling show. We saw over 10 falling stars and some were VERY bright and long.

Each time it happened the kids all oohed and ahhed to show their appreciation. Carter had been oohing and ahhing right along with everyone when suddenly a very brilliant star lit up the sky. He saw it, we all saw it, it couldn't have been missed. Carter said, "WOW!!! That was the first shooting star I ever sawed." (Hmmm...wonder what he was oohing and ahhing about before?) Kate wasn't about to be left out and let out a squeal of delight. She exclaimed, "OH WOW!! I saw my eyes move!" LOL!!

We stayed out until just before midnight. Only Alyssa and I were still awake. It was so peaceful laying there looking out at the universe. There's just something about watching the stars on a lovely summer night that makes all the worlds problems disappear for just a few minutes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lots of Cookie Dough in Me

Okay, okay....I have got to get my blogging act together. I have all sorts of fun things to blog about. Such as my wild and crazy dreams that have been in over abundance lately. For example: Terrorists setting off volcanoes while I'm hiking on the mountain. Or God forming our bodies from cookie dough, setting us on conveyor belts to bake. If we end up puffy (aka fat) we know God used a bigger handful of dough, and if we baked thin and crisp He used scant amounts of dough. (Hmmmm...I think I was in the more dough bucket.) Or how about the one where Brad Pitt was in a boat race. Only his boat was a hollowed out pumpkin with the goopy stringy stuff hanging into the river below. And I, lucky me, had to be the filter for the stringy stuff and swim through it, cleaning it out like an algae fish, even though I couldn't hold my breath. Believe you me, I have more from where this came from. Oh my dreams....they're going to be the death of me someday.

I told Kat I would do a post with more info about blog books...and I will....I promise Kat....someday.

And I have oodles of pictures and a couple of fun stories from our weekend family reunion.

But today, 3 out of 4 kids have already cried (we've only been awake for a little over an hour), chores are NOT getting done, and the fighting has reached obscene levels. SO, I think I'm going to shut off the computer, abandon chores today and go do something fun with my kids. Maybe the zoo, or feeding the ducks.

Don't forget to check out Shannon's auction for Kori, if you haven't already. Today is the last day to bid on items.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Benefit Auction

If you have a minute and a few dollars to spare, please head over to Shannon's today and check out the auction taking place. (For 48 hours only!) All proceeds go directly to my dear friend Kori, who's husband is in the final stages of colon cancer. Kori is the sweetest lady, a wonderful mom, and loving wife and can use all the help she gets.

Feel free to spread the word.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Summer means s'mores to me. I love them over a campfire, made indoor style out of Golden Grahams, and now I have a new one to add to the list. These yummy cookie bars (smarshmelwo cookies as Kate calls them) are a fun alternative to the traditional campfire treat.

S’more Cookies

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup
1 teaspoon
vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups
all-purpose flour
3/4 cup
graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon
baking powder
1/4 teaspoon
7 3/4 ounces milk chocolate (5 Hershey bars!) (or a bag of choc. chips)
3 cups
miniature marshmallows

1. Heat oven to 350°F.
2. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.
3. Beat butter and sugar until well blended in large bowl.
4. Add egg and vanilla; beat well.
5. Stir together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture, beating until blended.
6. Press half of dough into prepared pan.
7. Bake 15 minutes.
8. Arrange chocolate over baked layer, breaking as needed to fit.
9. Sprinkle with marshmallows; scatter bits of remaining cookie dough over marshmallows, forming top layer.
10. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or just until lightly browned.
11. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
12. Cut into 16 bars.

I think these would also be delicious with peanut butter or butterscotch chips added.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Day Trip to UT

My brother and sister in law came up from California for a visit last week. They are due to have a baby in October, so this provided the perfect opportunity for a baby shower. My mom, my sister, myself, and my two oldest girls loaded up on Saturday and made a quick day trip to Utah to join in the fun.

We met up with my cousin Larissa and my Aunt Gale and caught some lunch before the shower started. We had a few minutes to kill so we decided to to detour to the mall. Alyssa, Halle, and Madelynn were heaven in Claires. Mimi and Alyssa had fun trying on all the sunglasses. (Check out the store clerk telling me I wasn't allowed to take pictures. Too funny. Sorry lady, I got one.)

You don't think we got out of there empty handed do you? Each girl got a new pair of earrings; my they were proud of themselves. Then it was time to head off to the shower.

Nothing like tiny baby clothes and fuzzy blankies to get a mommy ready! (By the way, does someone just want to drop a new baby off on my doorstep? I promise to love it and raise it as my own.)

Quin worked hard all week getting this little rocking horse done in time to show it off at the shower. It is a replica of one my grandpa made for my dad when he was a year old. I am sure Quin's children will love it. (And I'm super jealous that I don't have my own. Even though my kids are well past that stage.)

This is my dad's little horse with Larissa's little girl Kalli on it. You'd think I'd have pictures of my own kids on this, but for the life of me, I can't find any. It is a treasure indeed, and all of us kids and our own children have loved to play on it. It's a sturdy little thing, with the original coat of paint still on it. After 50 + years! (Yah, we're pretty sure it's lead based, but so far none of us have died.) That's it....I'm putting my name on this. I get it when Mom & Dad die!! ;)

In the middle of the shower, the sprinklers mysteriously turned on and squirted everyone. Sure enough, Halle and Madelynn had gone over to the hose and were "investigating". You can always count on some excitement when you invite me and my brood.

My mom and her sister Gale. I think it's a nice picture of them both, but after they saw it, my mom said, "I look like a wet rat." And my Aunt Gale said, "I look like I'm 80 years old!" They are Texan and when they get together their accents come out full throttle. It is so funny to hear them talk. Their accents together with some of their sayings, we all love to tease them, but really we all get a kick out of hearing them.

The soon to be mommy with the grandmothers. My mom, Natalie, and Natalie's mom Sheri. (I apologize if I spelled that wrong.)

Thanks for inviting us! It was a really nice day and I can't wait for this little guy to meet the world!