Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nine Years?!

I cannot believe it's been nine years since we got married. I'm not old enough for that, am I?!?
Time has gone by so quickly. So much has changed...mainly three little ones that call us "Mama" and "Daddy"! Life looks much different now than it did nine years ago when we said "I do", but it's a good different. There have been hard times, fun times, sad times, and happy times. I've learned a lot about being a wife, but I have so much farther to go. We've both grown and we both have growing still to do. I think I've heard that the first 10 years of marriage are the hardest...I would have to agree! Think of all the adjustments you have to make: learning to live with someone else (not as easy as it sounds!), starting a family (WOW what an adjustment! It's easy to lose sight of each other when you have the tremendous task of raising up little ones), job changes and moves, you name it--they're all major life adjustments. I remember being asked for our wedding video "Where do you see yourselves in 10 years?" I think the answer was vague and generic..."with a family, living in a nice house, enjoying life." Aaron might have even thrown in a white picket fence! :)
We were in Colorado the weekend before our anniversary, so we reserved Grandpa & Grandma's Babysitting Service and went out to celebrate. It wasn't anything fancy, but it was so nice to just be with each other, uninterrupted by little questions or needs or cries!

The raging River in Estes Park. We ate along the river on the patio. It was perfect weather and gorgeous scenery (both across the table from me and beyond).

We saw an almost-full moon on the way back to the house.

Nine years baby! Wow.

This about scared me outta my wits! Humdrum for native boy, but I'll never get used to seeing these huge beasts alongside the road!

Here's to many, many more years celebrating us, honey! I love you with all my heart.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summertime Deliciousness

In light of my last post, here is a delicious smoothie recipe from Jamie Oliver's website! It has been kid-tested and approved in my house! Even after Jacob took a taste of the plain yogurt!!

Fruit Smoothies
1 ripe banana
1 c frozen (or fresh) fruit (mango, blackberry, blueberry, strawberry)
2 heaped Tbs plain yogurt
1/4 c quick oats (NOT instant)
1 cup 1% milk, soy milk, or apple juice
5 ice cubes
Slice banana and berries (if necessary), put in blender and add yogurt. "Whiz it up" as Jamie says. Add oats and blend some more. Add milk (1% or soy) or juice and ice cubes and blend until smooth. If it's too thick, add a bit more milk or juice.

The oats help make this a bit more filling and the fruit makes it nice and sweet. Plus you can make it year round using frozen fruit, and not compromise on taste or quality since the frozen fruit is picked at its prime. My kids loved it. I did double the recipe and ended up adding 3 bananas and a whole carton of fresh strawberries. It made plenty for all 4 of us and then some!! Next up is his recipe for Yogurt Pops!Link

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Growth and Revolution

I have a lot of picture posts to do (anniversary, birthday, 7 month update), but I haven't had time to download the pictures yet.
Some changing has been going on around our house for the last several months. With all of Mom's health issues and the research Dad has been doing and the things I've been learning, I have started really taking note of what we eat. Maybe I just haven't "gotten" it before, maybe the people I heard from weren't explaining it (more finger-shaking than teaching). I don't know. But a combination of things has caused me to look more closely at this area of our lives. Dad has been a great source of research for me...I don't know how he has time to learn all that he does with all he does, but he learns and he shares. He doesn't lecture (I can't believe I'm saying that! ha), he shares. And to me, I think that's the greatest way to educate someone. I stumbled across a show on hulu last night, "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" (he focuses on school food for the most part). I think the reason I like it so much is the way he teaches these kids and families about nutrition and food. He doesn't rage and rant about organic food. He's passionate about healthy eating and shares how to eat healthier. He makes the point that thLinkese kids aren't taught in school anymore about nutrition or cooking. Home Ec was a REQUIRED class when I was in high school. I don't even know if they have Home Ec anymore, let alone require it.
So, what am I doing about it? I look at my family history and I see the health problems that are trickling down through the generations...obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, high cholesterol. It scares me! Aaron loves salads and vegetables. He'll snack on lettuce for Pete's sake! I like them, too but if I have a choice I'd prefer chips or chocolate to snack on. I believe it's a mix of learned habits and genetics. Aaron grew up snacking on carrots and celery on road trips. I had candy bars and pop. I'm not saying my parents are bad for letting me have those (honestly, I don't remember as a little kid what we had, but I know when I was in high school that's what I had). But then I look at my kids and I see genetics playing a bigger part of it. Anna and Jacob started out eating the exact same things-when they started baby food, it was fruit and veggies, table food-same thing. They were both offered and made to eat vegetables. Jacob never liked them much. Anna always did. Good grief, she would eat a salad at 2 yrs old! I kept offering Jacob the same vegetables over and over. I always made him eat veggies. He'll eat broccoli, carrots, corn, green beans...but he doesn't usually ask for seconds and he sure won't ask for them as a snack. Anna does. He will however ask for seconds of anything sweet and he would drink pop all day, every day if I let him. They're both allowed to drink pop (not so much any more though!), but Anna will usually ask for milk or water instead. So I look at those two and I see that some of it has to be genetic. That doesn't mean I'm going to give in and let him have all the sweets he wants and none of the vegetables. It just means healthy eating is going to be harder for him, just like it is for me.
The more I learn about nutrition and the things that are allowed by the USDA, the more shocked I am. And the more it makes me want even better for my children. Did you know that some ground beef can be made with renderings from beef (that are usually used for dog food) "washed" with an ammonia solution?! And that the USDA doesn't require that to be listed on the label??
Did you know the shellac (shiny, hard shell) on candy comes from the secretions of a bug?! Seriously...

"This coating is not vegan and most likely not vegetarian either as it may, and probably does, contain crushed insects."

Is that not disturbing?

Eating organic/natural can be pretty expensive. Which is why America is having an obesity epidemic! When it's cheaper to buy a hamburger washed in ammonia than it is to buy a pound of organic apples...what do we expect? The grocery budget is usually at the top of the list for the chopping block when you try to cut back. Believe me, I know about cutting back expenses! There is literally no other area that we can cut back in besides food. I have noticed that the price of organic food has come down a little bit. And it's more available than it was a couple years ago. Our store in town has a FEW organic items. WalMart is carrying more and more. The Dillons in Hutch carries a lot of organic, especially produce. Another way I can save money is with my garden. I wish I had a bigger one, but this year I've got 12 tomato plants, 6 pepper plants, green beans, 2 cucumbers, and 4 zucchini plants (all for just $12!). I want to be able to plant potatoes, onions, carrots, cantaloupe, watermelon, and strawberries and have some blueberry and raspberry bushes along with fruit trees. That's the dream anyway! ;) There is also an organic farm (Jako, Inc.) nearby where I can get grass-fed beef, cage-free chicken, and organic produce. I was talking to a friend several months ago and she made an astute observation...if you try to go "organic" all at once, in everything, you'll go broke and you'll "fizz out". Do a little at a time until you eventually get there. For me, there are 3 main things that I want to avoid right away-high fructose corn syrup (which is HARD! It's in practically everything!!), non-organic beef and chicken, and candy/sweets. The first two will be expensive but the last one is simply a matter of not buying pop and candy. Although WalMart does carry cage-free chicken that isn't much more than the Tyson chicken. And there's a local farm that has great eggs for $1.50/dozen.
So we're on a journey to healthier eating. I'm so glad that Aaron is 100% supportive and encouraging. The more I learn, the more I want to share and the more I want to change. It doesn't make you a bad person if you don't buy organic fruit for your kids. It doesn't make you stupid if you don't know about these things. But I do think it's important to know where our food comes from and to be more aware of what we put into our bodies. We can say "Well, my parents/grandparents ate this and they're fine!" but the real problem is a generation or two away. Look at the kids in school today and you'll see the health problems that are usually prevalent in adults. I think most of that has to do with our unhealthy eating habits-at home and in schools.
Anyway, I hope this makes some sense and maybe educates someone just a little bit. I'll still be your friend if you let my kids drink a pop when they're at your house or eat plain ol' potato chips! ;) I'm not an organic snob. :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cranky McCrankerton

I'm pretty sure his top teeth are coming in...otherwise my normally sweet, content, happy baby is now a crabby, clingy, fussy baby! The way he chomps on anything hard that comes close to his mouth, I'm guessing it's his teeth (not to mention even worse sleeping at night!).
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Extreme Mustang Makover 2011 Ft. Collins

As you can tell from the previous videos, we went to Scott's Extreme Mustang Makeover competition in Ft. Collins last weekend. We were in Colorado anyway for Great Grandma's birthday, so we made a day out of it on Saturday.

The way these competitions work, the trainers draw a wild mustang (they don't get to choose). They then have 90 days to train the mustang. The competition includes reigning (taking your horse through patterns, changing leads, planted turns, etc), horsemanship (how well you can handle/train your horse), and a working cow horse (boxing a calf at one end of the arena).

The competitions are 3 days long. We only went on Saturday, so we saw the reigning class and the working cow horse class, along with the finals. To see what some of these trainers were able to do with a WILD MUSTANG in just 30 days was nothing short of amazing.

Jacob did pretty good for a 3 year old boy! :) It was pretty boring in between events and for a boy that's not really into horse things, he was pretty patient. He stayed for several hours, then Grandpa & Grandma took him back to Great Grandma's house to play with his tractors and soak up all that undivided attention. :)

Titus was a dominant horse in his pack, so that made training a bit challenging (he kicked Scott several times). Scott really didn't think he would do very good, but Titus was very calm for most of the weekend. He did a great job.

Yes, my husband wore jean shorts and sandals. I just shook my head when he came upstairs that morning. :) Anna insisted on wearing her bandanna from VBS. She was just in heaven all day.

She comes by her love for horses honestly.

Shawnda, you're going to kill me but this is what you get for 1) taking horrible, unflattering pictures of me and 2) for posing like this! haha!! My cousins came up from Denver to cheer on Scott and Titus, too.

The Mustang Riders of Northern Colorado came out and did a little show for us. It was really cool to watch!

Ready to ride.

Scott and Titus.

One beautiful, spunky horse...full of energy and athleticism.

Titus was HIP we always had to wait through the other 34 riders before Scott & Titus performed.

Talking shop with another trainer.

The Mustang Riders of Northern Colorado.

Waiting, waiting...

and still waiting...

Scott easily made it into the top 10 (out of about 40 horses).

Announcing the Top 10 Finalists.

Isaac had fun watching, too! When he wasn't napping, that is. :)

Alan came out with Scott and helped get things ready and get the tire and teeter-totter out in the arena for his final show.

Miss Anna being silly in front of Titus's stall.

Nate, Ange and Isabel (or Shawnda, Jr) was so great of them to come up and support Scott. And it's always fun to hang out with them, whether it's at a race, the house, or a horse competition!

Aaron was a MESS during the competition! He was so nervous and he didn't even have a stake in the thing! I told him he better get it under control or when we take Maverick to the one in Texas, I'm going to ban him to the hotel with Jacob and Isaac!! He had to go outside at one point and said he even had to lay down on the sidewalk because he was so worked up his heart was racing! He's crazy.

Cousins! Ange, Scott, and Shawnda.

Titus with all his ribbons. He got 3rd place overall (excellent job Scott & Titus!!!!), first place in the working cow horse class, and 2nd place in the reigning class.

It was such a great experience and I'm so proud of how Scott handles himself and his horses. He uses every opportunity he can to give God the glory and shine the light on Him, not on himself. He had so many people ask him about his Ranch and how he uses horses in therapy. He takes every opportunity to talk about his faith. We're all so excited to see how Maverick does! I'm planning on taking the kids over tomorrow to visit. Scott said he rode him for the first time today and he bucked for an HOUR! :) He said it's a good thing he's got 3 more months to work with him!

I Took the Plunge

I started cloth-diapering a few weeks ago. I actually looked into doing it before Isaac was born, but it was just too expensive at $20-30 a diaper and the people I talked to said it wouldn't be very cost-effective for just one baby. But every month I spent $40+ on diapers, I found myself wishing I could find some less expensive cloth diapers. (In case you haven't gathered already, the only reason I was thinking about it was to save money). Over Memorial Weekend, Mom and I went to some garage sales (have I ever mentioned that they have THE best garage sales up there?!) and I found a couple of cloth diapers for super cheap. I thought this would be a cheap way to see if it is even worth the effort/expense. So I picked up 2 cloth diapers (a bumgenius and rump-a-rooz) with 2 inserts each, a box of diaper detergent, and a big wet bag for about $13. Good deals! I discovered it wasn't so horrible and the laundry part didn't even factor in...I do at least a load every day anyway! I did some research, talked to a few people who already cloth-diaper, and found some great diapers for only $8-10 each! I also did some calculating and figured up that a stash of about 20 diapers would be enough and that they would pay for themselves within 5 months or so. And over the next 2.5 years (I have no hopes of Isaac potty-training any faster than Jacob did!), cloth-diapering will save us at least $1500! That sold Aaron (after some convincing that he wouldn't have to deal with more than a few poopy diapers). So I went to GoGreen Pocket Diapers and ordered 12 diapers (she was out of stock on some so I don't have my full stash yet).

Let me just say that cloth-diapering is not what it used to be! No pins, no plastic covers...they are practically as easy to put on as a disposable. Actually, the 2 I got at the garage sale are velcro so they're a lot like disposables. And aren't they cute?! :) These are pocket diapers, which means there is a "pocket" where you put an insert (as opposed to just being a cover with an insert). I've found them to be very absorbent. I've only had a couple of leaks, one was because I didn't wash them before I used them and the other was a poop blowout leak-thru (it didn't blow out of the diaper, but he must have been sitting in it for a while because it soaked through the diaper). And all I have to do is pull the insert out, throw it all into my wet bag and wash them at the end of the day (or the next day). Now, washing is one of those things that you'll find a ton of differing opinions about. I went with the advice from my friend that's been cloth-diapering for 5+ years...she just uses All Free & Clear and line dries them. She doesn't do an extra rinse except maybe once a month. I've found that unless I've got some soaked poo diapers, I don't need any extra rinsing (before or after). And since Isaac is starting on more solids, his dirty diapers aren't too messy. Also, these diapers are All In One, which means that they will fit Isaac until he's out of diapers. All those snaps make it very adjustable from newborn to size 6 diapers.

When my Dad heard Cassie was using cloth diapers and that I wanted to, he thought we were crazy. But that's because he was thinking of the cloth diapers they used when I was a baby...pins and plastic covers!

There is quite a bit of padding down there! But he's awfully cute!! :)

So I guess if you're considering cloth-diapering but are held back by the expense or by the fear of it being too messy...don't be! It's easy and doesn't have to be expensive. Go to GoGreen Pocket Diapers and get a stash for $200 that will pay for itself in months.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Top 10 Finals

Here's the final video of Scott's competition. As you can see, he did phenomenal! It was so exciting to be a part of this and Anna absolutely loved it. We were there for 8+ hours and she never once complained or asked to go. She is a cowgirl! We can't wait for Texas and Maverick's competition!!

Mustang Makeover Videos

It's late, I can't remember which ones I downloaded here, Isaac is crying. SO...this is part of Scott's competition this weekend. He was phenomenal! (Okay, these are from the two classes on Saturday afternoon...I think it was the reigning and cow-working)

Double Trouble

I'm so slow with these, but that's what happens when you're without a reliable computer!
Memorial Weekend, we celebrated Binga's birthday...and FINALLY got to meet Tate!!! He and Isaac are only a day apart, but Tate was born 9 weeks early. You certainly can't tell in these pictures that he's a preemie! He's a chunk!!! I have a feeling he and Isaac will be getting in plenty of trouble together in another couple of years...

Tate: Who is that lady and why is she pointing that camera at me?!
Isaac: Hey Mama, lemme show Tate how that works!

Tate: Ohhh, this is Aunt Jenni...Daddy's been telling me about her and how I should always give her a hard time. This is gonna be fun! Hehehe!!!
Isaac: Hmm...that could be fun. What did you have in mind?

Tate: Listen carefully..*whispering*
Isaac: Oh boy...I don't know about that buddy.
Tate: hahaha! What do you think Papa? Can we pull it off??

To be continued.....