Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Farewell Farm

This summer we took a road trip so I could say goodbye to one of my favorite places on earth - The Farm. My grandparents built a farm outside of Gainesville when I was probably Evan's age. It's their only house I have ever known; having spent weeks there each summer growing up, and several holidays as well.

My sweet grandmother passed away a couple years ago, and the family has decided its time to sell the farm. We went to help clean out the house, and for Ben to help drive a truckload of stuff for my mom. But mostly we went for me. And I'm so glad we did.

We visited beautiful Miramar beach in Destin on the way. The water on the Florida panhandle is crystal clear and perfect for the kids to play in.


We had lunch at a restaurant on the beach where the kids opted to try calamari for the first time ever, and weren't the least bit grossed out by munching on purple tentacles. After some key lime pie, it was time to wash the sand off the best we could and hit the road. It was also time for me to forget Ben's sunglasses at the table (the sunglasses he designed for Kenny Chesney/Costa Del Mar). Oops.

As we continued driving to the farm, I thought about how it was my last time I would get to drive to the farm. I have always loved driving those tree-lined Florida highways and have fond memories of sitting by my dad as we drove in the fog late at night from the airport in Jacksonville. Especially driving that last stretch of road and keeping an eye out for that red barn, so I knew we had made it.

During our time at the farm, I tried to take in every smell-- the house, the barn, the cows; listen to every sound-- the parquet wood floor, the door from the carport, the sliding doors, the early morning train, and the mooing cows. And of course I walked around and tried to get one last look at EVERYTHING-- the ponds (and I still kept my eyes out for gators like I did when I was little); the trees; the old, broken barn; the pastures; and the cows. I let my kids feed the animals, but they weren't my grandpa's cows. They weren't quite as friendly, but there were two red cows who would let us feed them.

Evan was so brave. He'd walk right up to them expecting a warm welcome. Lucas was more timid, for which he was probably grateful. On our last day Evan was feeding a cow and he turned around right in front of her. Before I could tell him to move or grab him, the cow knocked his little bum with her nose, and pushed him over. Cows aren't so polite when they ask for more food. Evan was quite offended and had his feelings hurt, but he was ok.


When we packed up the house, I was fortunate to have some stuff loaded for me to take home. We got a beautiful piano, a plant stand,  as well as several things from my grandma's kitchen. And I've used them all! It's so fun to be able to cook with my grandma's things. She was an amazing cook. After we locked the door to the house for the last time and loaded kids in the car, I remembered her old flour and sugar canisters and we ran in and got those, too. They're sitting on my counter, just like they sat on the counter at the farm.

(Oh, and the best part about having the piano from Grandma's house? It smells like the Grandma's house.) 

We had a great trip back to Austin. Lisa and Ben drove the truck most of the time; while my mom helped me entertain my kids, and look for Redbox and Dairy Queen locations to keep them happy. It was fun spending that time with my mom because we rarely get to talk that much now. She's so busy with her life in Albuquerque, and I'm busy here. And when we talk on the phone someone usually starts screaming or poking someone.

Now, there were plenty of other adventures on our trip. I'll write about them next :). I know Harry Potter pics are in high demand. But to tide you over, here is a pic of us attempting a family pushup.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


My sweet, sweet little Evan turned four last week!
Evan has wanted to go bowling for months, so we met some friends at the bowling alley the day before his birthday and had a great time! Evan thoroughly enjoyed both the sporting activity and the food :).

  Some of us have amazing form....
 Poor Evan was sporting a fresh black eye... something to do with a tiff between brothers. But to be fair, Lucas got stabbed with a fork the same day. Brotherly Love, my friends.

A true friend sticks by and admires your bowling results.
 Mmm. Pizza, nachos, mozzarella sticks, and fried pickles (which were quite an unpleasant surprise to this guy). What a birthday assortment!
We also had birthday cupcakes, and Evan wasn't too happy about our singing Happy Birthday. He's not a fan of all that loud attention.
For his real birthday I made this airplane cake. He wanted an airplane with "pointy down wings," which, may I tell you, is very hard to come by in the store. A couple years ago we had 3 mini Boeing 727s, and now Matchbox doesn't make them anymore (or they're hoarding them)! So, I made the next best (but way cuter) thing  - a blue paper airplane! Evan loved his cake and didn't complain for a second about the plane choice.

This time we whispered our best rendition of Happy Birthday, and it went over well. 
  Evan got some great gifts, which kept arriving in the mail for days! He was a happy boy.
 I'm so thankful for this little baby boy. In the days leading up to and on his birthday we spent a lot of time together looking at his baby pictures. He'll tell anybody he meets that he was a cute little baby, and he wants to be a baby again because he was so cute! I'd have to agree that he was one fine specimen, and still is!
Evan and I found this video last week of Lucas holding Evan for the first time. This is one of my best days ever. I miss Lucas's sweet little 4 year-old voice. So, deliciously adorable. Before we took this video he told me, "Mom!... You're not fat anymore!"
Happy Birthday, Evan!


Monday, October 7, 2013


We had a fun birthday party for Lucas at our neighborhood pool. It's always so nice to get together with a lot friends and just hang out and have fun!

We dined on Costco pizzas, fruit, veggies and salad. And instead of cake Lucas wanted Rice Krispie treats (point, Lucas!). I made PB/Butterscotch ones as well as marshmallow. And let me tell you, I've been making them wrong all these years! I used this Pioneer Woman recipe, and they were super-marshmallowy delicious.

One of the best things about the party was that Lucas's teacher, Ms. Tiffany, from K and 1st grade came! We love, love, love her! And it felt like having here there was better than any princess, knight, clown, or magician could have ever been! She got married the weekend after school got out last year, and moved to a new school. So she's had a name change, a school change and even has a little teeny-tiny on the way!
After Ms. Tiffany left, Ben provided the entertainment by catapulting kids into the air one after the other. They love that stuff AND it's good for Ben's back ;). There was one kid (the one on the bottom left) who was a little too big, but how can you tell him no? Especially after he took pics of your kid's party for you. Thanks for the pics, Marco!
So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Lucas! We love you so so so so so much! Thanks to everyone who came to help us celebrate. We should rent the pool for parties more often!!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Harry Potter Feast

Last night I had a Harry Potter dinner for three little HP fanatics. Look at how cute they are! Seriously cute, right? I have been wanting to do it for a while, and figured I should make it part of Lucas's birthday weekend.
I decorated with some potions: dream fluid, gillyweed, truth serum, dried beetles, blind cat eyes, and bat eyes.
For dinner they had meat pies (chicken pot pie), served with Herbology fruit, and Herbology broccoli, with pumpkin juice to drink. For dessert I made a treacle tart (Harry's favorite) as well as butter beer, of course.

 The kids had lots of fun and started the sorting hat at the beginning. We had to use Lucas's party hat from his birthday yesterday :). They went through as many names as they could remember, taking turns sitting in the chair, putting them into the appropriate houses.

 They ate their dinner, then played in their "dormitories" and came down for dessert. 

They had lots of fun and tried all the food (and some potions). Lucas ate quite a few dried beetles...hopefully today will be ok, because dried beetles are basically like prunes. The pumpkin juice was probably the fan favorite. 
My butterbeer didn't turn out great. I made homemade butterscotch sauce and it didn't turn out right because my candy thermometer broke, and I don't think I cooked it long enough, and my mom would have washed down the sides of the pan... Anyhow, it sugared and didn't dissolve in the cream soda. Next time I'll just buy butterscotch sauce. And I always imagined butterbeer to be warm, so I'm gonna try again in January. 
The treacle tart was beautiful. The sweetness of the golden syrup was a bit extreme for my liking (basically treacle tart is golden syrup (cooked sugar), bread crumbs, lemon juice and ginger). It was a fun experiment, though. And it's amazing how much better kids eat Harry Potter food. I might have HP food every night!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Lucky 7! Happy Birthday Lucas!!

Yesterday Lucas turned 7. SEVEN! He's getting so BIG and growing into such a sweet young man. We love him so much!
Last year Lucas woke up at 5:30 on his birthday. But this time it was Evan! And it was 5:00... and I went to bed at 1:00. Needless to say, I was not happy. And I was worried I wouldn't make it through the day. Anyhow, Lucas got up at 6:30. He got dressed and closed his eyes as we came down the stairs because he wanted to be surprised by the streamers and balloons (which he requested weeks ago), and he was pleased with the results. For breakfast I made blueberry pancakes and then Lucas opened a few gifts.
We headed to school in our newly pimped out car. I had a lot of fun drawing on the car with window crayons. I think it was my favorite of all the birthday prep.
Evan and I delivered donuts to Lucas's class at 2:45. It was the first time I've been in his new classroom during the school day, so that was fun. The kids were pretty excited and hyper for some reason...

After school I had an audition for a great job and I wanted to take Lucas because they needed kids, too. Lucas wasn't sure if he wanted to go, but finally he got in the car and off we went. I was nervous because he wasn't on board when we left the house; however, he did a wonderful job in the audition and totally surprised me! He did such a great job showing excitement and improvising while we sat in our imaginary truck, pulling our imaginary boat on our way home from our imaginary weekend at the lake. And Lucas loved the experience, too. Hopefully we'll get a callback!

We came home and had a yummy dinner and opened the rest of his gifts. (I love how excited he got over the blue blazer, dress pants, sweater vest, and belt I got him. He also wants a three piece suit and a tux...) After gifts we enjoyed a Harry Potter inspired cake (chocolate with strawberries and whipped cream). I had a lot of fun putting this cake together, and tried my best to channel my inner Rubeus Hagrid whilst decorating.

Look at my boy dressed up in his new Harry gear. He told me he thinks he should dye his hair darker. He's so silly. Maybe temporarily some day....

I love my little stinker so much. And I hope all his dreams comes true.
Happy Birthday, Lucas!