In Which…

Deedee is not in the picture because she is taking the picture.

Christmas 2019 Happens!

Yes, we are really that thrilled about it. But first, let’s take it back to the Saturday before Christmas, where our last Family Friday left off. (I like putting it that way. It makes it sound like our lives are an adventure story series with a storyline and arc and character development and all that. Which, of course, they are, but we the actors are not usually privy to the script.)

It was a stay-at-home kind of Saturday, so we made pumpkin spice muffins. Mostly because Daddy wanted to bake something sweet(ish) and Mommy wanted to make space in the cupboard.

The cousins came over so Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne could go on a date. Things got a little crazy…

After that we decided to make pizza.

G’Pa P’s original secret sauce recipe!? (Only slightly modified!)

Oh yeah! This is happening.

I must say, this was one of the best pizza doughs we have ever made.

Pizza dough is something of an art, at least as much as it is a science.

You can control all the factors, but it will still surprise you. In fact, it is best not to try to control too much, but to leave it room to surprise you, often quite pleasantly, as happened this time.

You can add exactly the same amount of everything every time, mix it at exactly the same speed, for exactly the same length of time, in the same temperature and humidity conditions and it will still come out slightly different every time.

This is because Pizza is not just a food. It is a mystical experience that transcends the laws of the physical universe.

I started writing a book about it once, and then I lost it in a terrible computer crash. Maybe someday I will return to that project and hold forth for a few hundred pages upon the Theology of Fine Pizza.

I know y’all are holding your breaths for that one.

Our Christmas cookie game was pretty weak this year. In fact, it was almost non-existent. I say almost because we did throw one weak play right at the very end. We opened the book of “Lost Recipes of America” to a random cookie page, and made the cookies on that page. A type of molasses cookie called “Joe Froggers,” with an interesting back story that I will not share due to copyrights and such, and also the fact that it is getting past our bedtime.

5 1/2 dozen molasses cookies. They turned out quite delicious, for those of us who like molasses.

It used up most of the last of our rum, but no one is drinking it these days so no great loss there.

The girls helped by playing outside and eating the last of the pumpkin muffins (they went quick!) and drinking hot cocoa.

Then Christmas Eve came around. We knew it was a-coming, but it still kind of hit us out of nowhere. We kind of winged it (wung it?) the whole two days, to be honest. Deedee and Papa and Gigi joined us for the Christmas Eve Children’s Mass and carol service. Afterwards we cam home to eat a light supper and watch the girls’ shenanigans.

The girls didn’t wait to get out of their Church dresses before moving Mary and Joseph to the stable. Then we wrapped Baby Jesus in a flowery muslin bookmark and placed him in the manger.

Then we got into jammies, before summoning the shepherds. We thought that was only fair, to give Mama Mary at least a few minutes of rest before a bunch of shepherds and their sheep stopped by to visit.

Especially the way Big Sissy arranges them.

It was a quiet evening for the grownups, and an energetic one for the girls.

They were very spinny in Daddy’s computer chair.

They were bouncing off the walls until 9:30, almost. Which, considering that we try to have them in bed by 7:30 most nights, is pretty late. We did get them to take one sitting-still picture with Gigi.

So then it was Christmas Morning, and the usual chaos ensued.

Then it was up to Deedee and Papa’s house for Christmas 2.0. Of course they received too many presents for us to take pictures of them all, and it would be boring reading anyway. Plus, it’s not the point of Christmas anyway. Suffice to say, many and marvelous were the gifts.

At the breakfast table Big Sissy was bouncing up and down and demanding “When are we going to open presents? When am I going to get my presents? Can open presents now?”

So we told her: “Getting presents is not the most important part of Christmas, kiddo. Do you know what is the most important part of Christmas?”

Her answer: “Getting presents?”

I see we are going to have to rethink our Christmasing strategy for next year. Of course it is perfectly natural for a four-year-old to think about getting presents more than anything else. However, it is a bit unreasonable of us to say that Jesus’ Birthday is the most important part of Christmas, and then spend 50% of the day on presents, and not expect her to get that wrong.

So next year we will probably focus more on them giving than on receiving, though right now we have no idea what that will look like.

But that’s all for now, and time for us to go to bed. Pray for us! God Bless.

Merry Christmas (because it goes until Epiphany), Happy Feast of the Holy Family (because that is tomorrow!) and Happy New Year! (Because it’s probably going to be pretty intense).

God Bless!

Busy week, busy weekend, and busy week. Uncle Matthew’s visit was last week, then Daddy went on retreat to St. Martin’s Abbey last weekend, and this week has been early mornings and late nights. So this is a full Family Friday, and, alas, we do not have time to do it justice. It is already after 8:00 PM and the moment of the alarm jangling creeps ever closer. (Try not to be impressed that we are up and awake and doing things so late at night. 8:00 PM! Kind of a big deal!)

And that’s all for this week. Or rather for the last two weeks.

We hope you are having a wonderful weekend. Happy Advent from the whole family!

Including the newest member!

Last week may not have been a great week to skip Family Friday. A lot happened that week, and a lot happened this week, so this is going to be a long FF.

Grandma Ann Strikes Again! This time with matching “Madeline” dresses.

Holy Double Trouble, Batman!

The week was busy. In fact, it was a blur. We managed to catch a few photos, however.

AS the girls grow older, surprising personality traits start to emerge. Big Sister still can’t sit still to save her life, unless she is painting or drawing. That will reliably keep her stationary and (relatively) quiet for 15 – 30 minutes. Perhaps that’s why Little Sis likes to paint together. She gets to make all the noise for once.

Also, Big Sis has no idea where anything is at any given time, anywhere in the house. Things she uses all the time, like her back pack, her water bottle, etc. just get left wherever she happens to drop them, and she can never remember where that was. So far not unusual for a four-year-old. But suddenly she has decided that this particular drawer must be neat and organized.

This is where the tooth cleaning and hair doing supplies live.

One night she just started organizing it, putting everything in rows and lines, and she became quite upset when Mommy and Daddy put things back in the drawer somewhere other than where she had them.

As they grow older, they also, occasionally, have birthdays. One such birthday occurred last week. That’s right, Little Sis is now officially two-ified.

Probably her favorite birthday present was her very own brand new rucksack! She refuses to go anywhere outside the house without it, and even carries it around inside the house for fun.

Now she’s just like Sissie!

She doesn’t take the “terrible two’s” as seriously as Big Sis did, having a much more laid back personality (thanks be to God!)

Daddy had one day off in the middle of the week which was not taken up with shopping and catching up on errands and online training. So he and Little Sis took the next step in the great sheet mulch experiment. That is, they seeded the lawn with night crawlers.

Unfortunately, in the days since then, or rather in the nights since then, the temp has been dropping pretty drastically down to the low thirties. We’ve had some solid frosts, and are expecting even colder temps this weekend. Hopefully those worms were able to burrow deep enough, fast enough to survive. Otherwise, that was some expensive soil amendment. But it was still fun.

We had the cousins over on Saturday so Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne could go on a date. Despite the chill in the air we made them play outside most of the afternoon,

While Mommy made and canned carrot soup…

and cranberry sauce (not pictured). Both turned out quite well, and we have to say, the carrot soup is probably one of the most colorful things we put away on our shelves.

Then, after it got cold and dark we let the kids come inside for supper, and to watch a movie. They weren’t very interested in the movie, however, and spent most of the time playing “ring-around-a-rosie” and all falling down on the living room carpet.

Sunday was a quiet day, and we purposely kept it that way instead of trying to schedule any get-togethers or anything like that. Instead we hung out inside and outside all day, read books, played games, talked, and ate food and drank tea.

Big Sis did amazingly well at learning how to play “Ticket to Ride!”

The week leading up to Thanksgiving was busy as well, even though it was a short week. We always end up trying to shove as much of the errands and extra work into it as possible, and then there is the added planning for the big Thanksgiving meal. Fortunately, we decided to keep it simple, this year, and that turned out to be a great call. It meant that we had time to do things like go to the park in the middle of the week.

And climb trees to sing princess songs.

Yes, she is climbing trees in crocs.

We had a bit of a scare early in the week when Great-Grandma Betty had some trouble with her heart failure and had to go into the hospital. However, they got it under control very quickly, so quickly that she was able to have visitors the next day.

And she was getting up and moving around easily, and even was able to pick up Little Sis.

So we keep praying for her, but we think she is going to do all right for now.

Every once in a while, Daddy likes to try something new for breakfast on his days off.

Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Bars.

Banana Oatmeal bars were quite popular, and quite easy to prep. The only downside is the 45 minute back time, which means getting up early. Oh well. Sleep when you’re dead, right?

The most beautiful late fall weather, these days.

We are having a special guest over for the weekend. Uncle Matthew flew in the night before Thanksgiving. (Let me tell you, picking him up from SeaTac was a disaster!) Here is rare photographic evidence of him helping out in the kitchen. It is also a rare photograph of Mommy with some spare thyme on her hands.

It was a simple, quiet Thanksgiving meal, featuring crockpot turkey breast and oven roasted duck, home canned green beans, and some corn, with squash bake, pie and garlic bread from Deedee, and cookies from Dude.

Papa had to be late because he was driving Great Grandma Betty home from the hospital.

Oh, and shrimp dip.

Lots and lots of shrimp dip. This was Little Sis’ first time trying it.

And that’s about it. Thanks for tuning in. Thank God for all His marvelous blessings, spiritual and physical, big and small, noticed and unnoticed.

Have a great weekend! God Bless.

Welcome to Family Friday! Fall time is in full swing around here. It has frosted a couple of mornings this week, which was nice and autumnal. And boy have we been harvesting!

The crown of the year is harvest time, and if you cannot enjoy that, you are unlikely to enjoy anything.

John Seymour, “The Self -Sufficient Life, and how to live it.” Pg. 148.
Baby Girl enjoys harvesting apples.

We harvest most of the crop from our two dwarf braeburns.

It did not take long, and for three-year-old trees they produced pretty well.

She picked four apples all her own, and then walked around with them in her bucket taking alternate bites from each one of them.

As I said, that was the easy part. Then we were left with about a hundred apples and an already busy weekend ahead of us… I mean really busy, with thrift shopping and call for Mommy.

It’s also baby sale season again, which means cleaning, sorting and tagging old baby clothes.

And yard work and job searching social events (which turned out to be a waste of time) for Daddy.

All those apples were cored and quartered in a single nap period!

Thankfully it was Squeezo to the rescue! It turns out it is super easy to make applesauce with the squeezo. You simply quarter the apples, boil them until soft, and then run them through the squeezo. Apparently you don’t even have to remove the seeds, although Daddy didn’t know that, and removed all the seeds. Waste of time, that. The squeezo removes them all.

Apples boiling at 5 AM on a Saturday.

We decided not to post a picture of the kids operating the squeezo. Partly because of child labor laws, and partly because we were too busy supervising to take pictures.

The other bit of providential coincidence was that during her thrift shopping, Mommy found another pressure canner that was under $20! Best part is that the bottom platform that the jars rest on is shaped a little differently than the old one so it holds more jars at a time, 8 quarts vs. 5 quarts.

So Mommy and Daddy sprinted through the canning, alternating canners so that at least one was going at all times.

E1 got to help by spreading the table with towels to receive the hot jars.

In less than two hours…

A dozen pints of sweetened, six pints of spiced, and four quarts and a pint of all natural.

Yep, that was some teamwork, right there. That’s the sort of thing that will help your marriage grow.

Sunday we visited Deedee and Papa. I also happened to be Grandma Dolly’s birthday so we went to put flowers on her grave.

However, someone had already put flowers there, and there was only one flower holder, so we put them on Grandma Shirley’s and Grandpa Joe’s grave instead.

Then we went over to Dude’s house and scrounged the last of her beets, and admired her empty garden. The girls ran around and colored with chalk, and even Deedee got in on the chalk coloring action.

The new hip is really working out for her.

During the week we picked up some new bulbs for some renunculus to add to our flower mix, as well as a passiflora incarnata (passionflower var. “Maypop”) vine.

So out we went on a cold and rainy evening to plant more plants. I swear there are more plants than people at this house!

But we don’t mind the rain!

They say in the cold countries, there is no such thing as inclement weather, only insufficient clothing.

Our Maypop went against the back fence between the hammock and the apple trees. Daddy is excited to see how that does next year, since it supposed to grow up to 20 feet in a single season, blossom in May, produce edible fruits in late summer, and die back to almost nothing in winter.

No pressure, little guy.

Well, we shall see.

That fence gets half sun in early spring, but once the maple tree leaves out, forget about. The tiger lilies do really well, but so far everything else has fizzled.

The gladioli did not bloom, and only three of the sunflowers even sprouted, and they are pathetic little things.
Although the one that blossomed is quite pretty.

We’ve had a couple decent frosts this week as well, so we’ve been beginning to prepare our garden to winter. Mostly this means mulching, so Daddy and Baby Girl went to pick up some straw bales.

One of the issues we’ve been having this year with our garden is that it is on a bit of a slope (as is all of our property). The rain or the sprinkler wets the dirt and some of it washes down the hill. Then the sun bakes the top layer to dust during the hot summer days, and the dust blows away. This depletes soil really quickly. You can see the difference in the rockyness of the soil after the growing season compared to before. There are more rocks in the fall than there are in the spring because so much dirt washes and blows away during the summer.

Of course some of the mulch is doing temp duty as decoration.

To mitigate this we are going to cover crop the vegetable portion (more on that later), and are gradually working to build up the ground layer of our flower portion. But in the meantime…

Mulch!

While we were at it, though, we discovered that our huckleberry is coming into berry like that’s its job!

Which is very popular among the younger set.

Snack time!

Last night we ripped out all the bean vines and our few straggly corn stalks. We mulched them up with the lawnmower and threw them in the compost. The beans will provide some excellent nitrogen to balance out the carbon from all that shredded paper we’ve been dumping in recently.

The only vegetables remaining are four ambitious rutabagas, and one heroic acorn squash.

And we chopped up the remainder with hoes, preparatory to sowing our green manure ground cover.

She informed us she “Is going to do all the works you tell me to do so I can get a horse!”
We responded neither yay nor neigh. 😀

Oh, there are also the tomatoes. Yep, here it is, October, and the ginormous heirloom is loaded! It finally seems to have kicked the blossom rot, as did the bigger of the two San Marzano’s, and even our two scrawny heirlooms are all of a sudden like “I’m ’bout to do something!”

If Charlie Brown had a tomato plant, it would look like this.

So, with the frosty mornings, we have taken to covering our tomatoes with trash bags before the sun goes down.

It’s like a New York growing season. Many and many’s the time growing up Daddy had to cover a few dozen tomato pushes with black plastic every night as they set in their last fruit right before Fall started flirting with Winter.

It is great weather for homemade bread with butter, and hot mugs of cider or tea outside on the deck, and porter or stout in the evening.

Not that we very often have the time, but we try to enjoy it when we do.

And that’s all for this week. Have a great weekend, and God Bless! Keep us and Aunty Mate who is recovering from surgery in your prayers.

No, we are not bringing back the Mantilla. She is just experimenting with wearing Sissie’s skirt on her head.
Still, she does look “rahthah mahvelous, dahling.”

Hello all!

Daddy came home on Sunday! He and his buddies started driving as soon as they were done with work on Saturday and drove through until midnight with only one major mishap involving a flat tire in the middle of nowhere and a (probably) shady tire dealership. We crushed some miles and got in a little after midnight so Daddy was able to be home when Mommy woke up on Sunday morning. And then a little later when the little girls woke up. Ellie was holding up her hands and saying “Hug! Hug!” about every five minutes for the first two or three hours. So it was good to be home.

After Mass and lunch we drove up to Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne’s house for burgers and dogs.

Aunty Kathleen figured out that all you need to do to be the center of attention for a bunch of Kraeger kids is to hold the food. All except Evie. She is strange and gets so excited she forgets to eat.

Ellie loves her Grandma Ann dresses, because they have pockets. Real pockets. Useful pockets for putting useful things in, like grapes and rocks and pinecones.

Tri-tip with bacon/veggie stirfry. Daddy is still in Team cooking mode, as you can see by the prominent lack of carbs.

Wednesday we made bread. Ellie helped.

We also made the dough for the doughnuts Mommy was planning on making for the Fourth, so that it could sit in the refrigerator and chill. Ellie is going to be a great cook someday, or baker, or both. She pays attention and has patience, and she loves dumping things and mixing things.

Evie is more of a “free spirit!”

We got a shredder from amazon, and Daddy shredded about a bushel and a half of newspaper shreddings. Evie and Ellie helped Daddy put it in the composter, which, we are happy to say is doing really well.

We have a few thousand worms, it looks like, with a beautiful bottom layer of well broken-down compost. It should be perfect to muck the garden with by the time winter comes.

Not much else to report until Thursday, which was the Fourth of July, obviously.

Naturally, we took the opportunity of a free day off in the middle of the week for everything it was worth. The girls drove, just to change things up a bit, and Daddy and Mommy rode in luxury in the back seat.

We went to a local orchard and purchased three flats of currants. Why three flats? Because Ryan has a poor eye for how far a given volume of fruit will go when transformed into jelly, and Kathleen has a taste for biting off more than she can chew.

Ellie helping herself to a container of currants. Sorry, Kiddo, those are already picked and cleaned. You get the ones in clusters and pick them yourself.

That was a lot of picking and cleaning, but then it was time to set up the SQUEEZO!

Everyone loves the squeezo. It’s been a hit since it was first introduced in the early 20th century. A four-year-old can mill eight pounds of currants in 10 minutes,

And maintain her attention almost the whole way through with only one short break.

It’s pure magic. Then of, course, comes the real art of mixing the sugar and pectin in the right quantities and boiling at the right temperature for the right length of time.

Careful! Hot Stuff!
And some boiling jelly.

Evie can’t help with that part yet, so she contented herself with cleaning up every last trace of spilled juice.

I have to say, I think it is one of the prettiest looking jellies Kathleen has turned out so far.

We spread the seeds and mash along the back fence behind the tiger lillies, the fence line that the neighbor’s weeds keep creeping under. Maybe in a few years the next owners of this house will have a private hedge/weed barrier of currant bushes.

More likely our friendly neighborhood possum family will have a delicious free snack.

After nap snack break.

Then it was time for Daddy to get some coals going and set a dutch oven of oil on to heat,

Waiting for the pot to boil.

while Mommy shaped the dough into nuts.

Doughsnuts!

Note to selves, it takes about an hour and a half for that DO to get up to 250+ degrees with 20 coals under it. This might be because down in the firepit it doesn’t get great air flow. If we do this for a party or something we’ll have to take that into account.

Of course the heat doesn’t have to be very precise, so we would probably just hang it over an open fire. But then again there might be issues with flair ups whenever the oil dripped or splashed. Coals are a good option, they just require a little extra lead time.

Today, Mommy had to go back to work so it was just Daddy and the girls. We ended up going up to Deedee and Papa’s house. Ellie helped pick strawberries.

Chipmunk Cheeks!

And Daddy split some more of Papa’s firewood and the girls had their first lesson in stacking wood.

And that’s all for this week, folks. Have a great rest of your weekend. Keep us in your prayers! God Bless!

Another week of Daddy being gone has passed. Everyone has been very busy.

But it’s still important to take the time to stop and smell the Daisies.

Last Sunday Mommy took Evie and Ellie up to Deedee and Papa’s house to visit.

Ellie is still not sure why she should smile at the phones that people are constantly pointing at her.

This was also the week of Emma’s birthday party next door. Since the fence is still broken, it was relatively easy for an invitation to make its way over to our side, and for our kids to make their way over to their side.

Meanwhile, Mommy kept herself busy by pulling out Daddy’s old Texas Skillet, the one he has owned for more than a decade, the one that has sizzled a metric ton of bacon in its time and has never been washed, and which also has been living on top of the cupboard in the kitchen for a couple years because it started burning on and Ryan never made the time to strip and cure it, where it has been collecting dust and grease from the old broken oven vent before Ryan fixed it…

You know the one.

A few weeks ago Kathleen read in her 1930’s homemaker manual that the way to strip cast iron is to boil potato skins in it. It worked on her smaller Texas skillet (it’s more of an Oklahoma skillet, really) so now she tried it on the far nastier big skillet. It worked quite well actually, and she was able to heat treat it and cure it with vegetable oil. We’ll see if Ryan can remember to maintain the seasoning when he gets back.

Ryan has been busy also, long days of training,

It may seem like a lot of effort, but the National Guard is called upon to perform the same missions that Active Duty is called on to perform, but we have only about 40 training days per year to prepare for them, compared to at least 250 training days on Active Duty. When you think about that it makes sense for us to go out in the middle of nowhere and really knuckle down to getting after it for the few weeks of AT we get.

Evie is doing her own training, these days. Without being prompted she accurately pointed out the spot on the lake that we visited when we were in Glacier three weeks ago.

We assume that she remembered it from the big wall map Kathleen showed her when she was there, since she can’t read yet.

She is one smart cookie!

Our peas have started producing too!

Between our peas and the neighbor’s peas (they are on vacation and asked us to pick their peas while they were gone) we are pulling in about half a colander at a time. Not bad for two tiny little plots.

And that’s about all the happenings this week.

Daddy drew a picture of a bunny in the letter he wrote to Ellie, so she decided to play bunny.

We hope you have had a good week and continue to have a wonderful weekend. God Bless. Pray for us.

This has not been a very Family Friendly week, starting with the weekend. We make the most of it as usual, but it has been a bit rough.

Saturday was a busy day. We spent the morning transferring ownership of Grandma Betty’s car to us so that Mommy will have a commuter to take to work, and our larger car can stay home and fit all the carseats more conveniently for when Grace has to take Evie to school.

Then Daddy had to go up to the Armory in the afternoon to finish packing gear for Annual Training. We went to Saturday evening Mass together, and then Mommy got called in to work. So it was one of those days that we just didn’t get a whole lot of together time.

But at least we had lunchtime together, and Mommy made Daddy a glorious large pan of patio beans for his trip.

Then on Sunday Daddy got up before the sun to drive out of state with a few other guys for Annual Training.

Ironic, really, leaving for AT on Father’s Day. Of the guys out here, only one doesn’t have kids yet. Welcome to Special Forces, even in the Guard.

Once we arrived there was the obligatory shaving of the face.

Before we can successfully guard the nation we must first divest ourselves of our panache.

Then let the training begin.

Good to get behind the gun again. And also it is really pretty country out here.

Evie informed Daddy that he needed to write her letters while he was gone. That is what she learned from the Korea trip last year.

There you go!

Mommy’s letters take longer to write. We have had a little time for sightseeing between events. Ryan got to visit a very beautiful local Church.

My home away from home.

Meanwhile back on the homefront, Mommy continues to hold the course with the girls. They spent Sunday at Deedee and Papa’s house celebrating Father’s day.

This week was also Evie’s last day of school for the year!

We are so proud of this big girl! She has learned her letters and her numbers and has done a wonderful job of learning to listen to her teachers and get along with her classmates. She works hard and has so much energy!

Mommy is run quite ragged, but she still manages to get things done, and still have time to hang out with the girls.

Deedee and Papa were able to come over earlier this week as well.

With the nice weather there is a lot of playing in the Hammock.

It is the best place to relax.

Daddy can’t wait to get home and relax there with his girls.

Evie erasing the days, one at a time, until Daddy comes home.

That’s all for this week, folks.

Oh, and also Ryan got official word that he passed his national certification exam last week. He is now officially a PA-C.

And that really is all for this week. We hope you guys had a great week, and have a wonderful weekend. See you later! God Bless.

Well! This week was a barrel of monkeys.

Or a bucket of Ellie. Same thing.

We already wrote earlier this week about our visit to the cemetery for Memorial Day. Or rather, the Sunday before Memorial Day. After visiting at the cemetery we went to Deedee and Papa’s house to visit and then visited Dude and Susie.

Always a hoot

On memorial day Daddy and Evie did their best to cook the most patriotic and American breakfast we could think of.

Start out with a little bit of red, white and blue…

A.k.a. strawberries, blueberries, and Bisquick.

When will they ever be done?!

Add some bacon and a little bit of sausage, and voilà!

#Murica!

Then we went down to Dupont for a hike with our good friends Margie and Dane, and their daughter Zellie.

Setting out on our grand adventure.

For our hike we chose sequelachew park which is a 1.5 mile trail from behind the Dupont police station down to the water on the sound.

Ellie gets to ride, because her legs are short.

It is quite a lovely trail, broad and well-maintained, that slopes gently downhill to the water.

Evie and Zellie stopped to collect some nature.

It runs down an old railway grade, so the slope is not very dramatic and there is plenty of nature for the little people to hunt.

At the bottom, the trail goes through an old rail tunnel from when they used to have a dock down there.

This is the only place where there’s any track left, but it runs underneath a working railroad track that runs along the edge of the sound from north to south.

Once you go through the tunnel you arrive on the beach which, like most Washington beaches, is entirely composed of rocks of various size. Far from being a disadvantage, this is a most excellent thing when you are small and want to throw rocks in the water. It also works when you are big and want to throw rocks in the water. This beach comes handily supplied with rocks rated for all your rock throwing needs, at least from 18 month girl to 34-year-old BCFF.

There are also some pretty decent rocks that you can climb on.

All in all, for being a 3 mile round-trip, the steady uphill grade for the entire way back makes it a bit of a smoker especially if you are carrying a rucksack with an Ellie on top of it. After our hike, we enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch before heading home to relax for the rest of the day.

Daddy is trying to step up his grill game, so the girls are helping him study.

The neighbor kids came over in the afternoon to test out the sturdiness of the hammock pole after Ryan added three bags of quick-crete. At 50 pounds apiece, that’s 150 pounds of support at the very base of the pole, so it should do the trick.

It may still have a little bit of shake to it, but at least it’s not leaning precariously like it’s going to pop out of the ground it any second.

After nap, Eli wanted to come outside but no one was available to put her shoes on right away, so she helped herself to her sister’s shoes, put them on her self, and walked on outside.

On the wrong feet and everything just like a proper toddler shoe should be. And then she proceeded to get them soaking wet. This is also very right and just for a toddler shoe.

Mommy has been working hard with her new business, selling bags two ladies who need to carry things around in their life. This, in my experience, includes pretty much every lady ever.

Ellie likes to help by explaining the various virtues and benefits of each bag and accessory item.

She’s been getting pretty good responses too, complete with live Facebook videos and other fancy stuff like that.

We spent all day Thursday packing and getting ready for our trip this weekend.

Ellie says, “This works for me. I’m ready to go.”

When Evelyn got home from school, she thought that was a good idea so she joined her sister.

Evelyn reading “The Knight and the Dragon” to Eleanor.

In case you were not familiar with this during tale, you may listen to Evelyn’s rendition of it here.

Or not, since the mobile app won’t allow me to paste the link in apparently. You’ll just have to imagine it.While some liberties may have been taken with some aspects of the story, it was, nevertheless, heartwarming and profound as ever.

Last night, we got together for pizza to celebrate Ryan finishing PA school.

Ellie is impressed

It was a surprise get together, Ryan thought we were just getting together with Deedee and Papa before we headed out for the weekend.

Instead, all of these folks showed up…

And piled on top of Deedee.

And we got our party on like we were graduating college.

Then, we went home and finished packing. We staged all of our rucks by the door as they should be.

Not to mention our suitcase and car seat carrying bags.

And then everyone was up bright and early this morning

Ready for our next big adventure.

So have a great weekend everyone, we will see y’all next week.

God bless!

Yes, I know we are a day late. At least we aren’t a week late as usual. We had more important things to think about last Friday than blogging because it happened to be Ryan and Kathleen’s Anniversary!

WHAT!!!??? That’s right! That’s us, folks, years ago when we were not Daddy and Mommy, just plain old boring Ryan and Kathleen. When this picture was taken we had at least three days to go before Evie started her little microscopic existence.

Fast forward 5 years…

Here we are, sampling the meloncello. Which wasn’t that great, as it turned out. It needs more melon or less cello.

So yeah, last Friday we were busy. It was a fun week though. Saturday was a great day with gorgeous weather.

Nothing like reading a cook book in your jammies with your favorite Mommy.

We took a drive down to Yelm because Ryan had to see a guy about a bag. That is, he has some custom tactical sewing to do and there is a guy down in Yelm who does that sort of thing.

Yelm is also home to a short, easy hiking trail called “Deschutes Falls Park.” We had a lovely hike and picnic lunch.

Daddy got a little behind because he was putting his ruck on. That’s right, he doesn’t go on hikes without his rucksack, because training.

Besides, Ellie likes to ride on it when the big people go too fast for her little short legs. That said, for being only about two feet tall, she is quite a good hiker.

The falls were quite pretty but it was hard to get a good picture of them because they were in a box canyon.

As you move up the river from the falls the water gets a lot quieter.

You can take the trail…

Or you can take the scenic route…

Throwing Rocks is the best thing ever!

And then we came back to the parking area for a lovely picnic lunch.

And a nice older German couple let the girls pet their dog.

We got back home a little later than we intended, because of traffic, but the girls took a much needed nap in the car, while Mommy and Daddy got some hand-holding conversation time, so it was not a bad thing at all.

The house needed a little cleaning when we got home, so Evie helped “mop” the floor. When I look at the mop she is using and compare it to the mop I had to use (and by “mop” I mean “scrub brush”) it makes me wonder what these kids will do if technology ever takes a nationwide dump for any extended period of time.

Hopefully some older folks are still around. Or at least some old books. That’s why Kathleen keeps old housekeeping books from the 1930’s around. It worked then, it can work again.

Our friend Alberto came over for some kebabs, and got roped into helping Evie with her princess puzzle.

It’s a hazard of being invited over. That or reading “Dragons love Tacos,” fifty times in a row.

Sunday was mother’s day. We made some blueberry biscuits to take to church for the coffee hour after Mass. Kathleen dug up some old baking paper bags from her Grandma’s kitchen.

We thought that was a fitting way to celebrate Mother’s day.

After Mass we went up to Enumclaw to visit Deedee and Papa. We also put some flowers around the graves of some old grandmas and great-grandmas.

The weather at Deedee and Papa’s was beautiful, so Papa tried to fly his kite (alas, without much success, since for once there was hardly any wind) while Evie and Ellie ruckused around in the playhouse.

Evie finally learned how to pedal her little toy truck. She has never had to do that before, so why should she learn how? But this time Papa said, “No, you’re big enough, use your own feet.” So she did, and in no time she was giving Ellie rides around the deck.

We gave Mommy the Mother’s day presents we made.

Now she has a pair of Holsteins to go with her pair of Brown Swiss.

It was a very rainy week, which was quite lovely, since it kept the garden watered for free.

Kathleen finished processing and bottling the meloncello but was not satisfied with it, so it got tossed. We’ll try using more melon next time, or maybe blending it or juicing it first before adding it to the clear.

The Lemoncello is looking much more promising.

Kathleen also started a second or third career (depending on how you count) as a busy bag lady, selling 31 bags and gear.

Why? Because she doesn’t have enough to do already, and it sounds like fun.

After all that rain it was nice to have a warm, sunny day off. Evie did sterling labor in the garden, cutting flowers, pulling clover…

Off course she did also decide to snip a chunk out of her hair. For some reason that was irresistible to her, despite being told not to.

That child! Sigh.

But she helped flip the compost, and taught Ellie all about earthworms (Evie learned about them in school).

And after she pulled up all the weeds, and dumped them in the composter, she watered the compost all by herself so that the greens will rot down into nice, black dirt.

Ellie visited with the little girl who lives next door. unfortunately, there is no gate in their fence, so they can speak, but may never play. Alas.

Unlike the wooden fence on the other side of the property, one section of which has rotted and broken. When Ryan tore it down to set a new post the other neighbor kids took advantage of the suddenly porous border to swarm over and play on the hammock.

How many kids can you fit in one hammock?

One more!

That’s all for this week, folks.

Whoah! Isn’t that something? This is our 200th Family Friday. Assuming 52 Fridays in the average year, that means we have been doing this close to 4 years…

I just checked the Archives. Family Friday 1 was published on May 29, 2015. May 29 is a Wednesday this year, but I think we’ll have a cake or something. Or at least a beer. I don’t know. Stay tuned, we’ll figure it out

This has been a week of gorgeous weather which, thankfully, seems to be coming to an end.

I say thankfully because all this dry, blue skies, sunny-yet-cool nonsense is very bad for our new little baby plants,

and by extension for our pocket book. Irrigating gets expensive.

The girls really enjoy it, though. Especially Ellie.

On Saturday we went up and visited Deedee and Papa. Ryan and Kathleen went and got taxes done, and then we came back and played outside. Evie and Ellie played with the riding horse.

Ryan played with some blocks of wood that Papa needs split into firewood.

Kathleen made a batch of mixed berry jelly with her new “squeezo.” It took a four hour process and turned it into a two hour process, including cleanup.

Kathleen had to work on Saturday night, so Ryan was left to make Sunday’s huckleberry pie by himself. (His first ever pie attempt). It was not terrible, but he didn’t realize that the frozen huckleberries would be very juicy. First he tried to cook it on a pizza pan so that it wouldn’t overflow in the oven. It didn’t over flow… It also didn’t cook.

So we had to rebake it the next morning. It overflowed, but what can you do. Apparently tapioca or cornstarch is the answer.

Then on Sunday we went and visited the hot chicks.

Then we went up and visited Adam and Maryanne and the gang.

Ryan and Kathleen have been super busy this week, and there has been a couple short rounds of sickness (stomach bug, pink eye, stomach bug again). It’s a total mystery how we always manage to share our germs so effectively…

Let’s see, what else?

Not really much.

That’s all for this week, folks. Thanks for stopping by. One of these days we will get back to writing thoughtful and topical blogs about learned and relevant subjects. In the meantime, we hope you continue to enjoy our Family every Friday. Or most Fridays anyway.

God Bless!