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.

Hello, Folks! It’s time for another Family Friday! We hope you have been having a great week. Ours has been… productive.

Any time you enter the week riding on a great black concrete bear, you know it’s going to be a good one.

It has been a busy week, but more of an odds-and-ends kind of busy, not so much a major event kind of busy. Laundry,

gardening,

harvesting,

That’s just the first pick, since then we’ve been getting about 1.5 quarts per day.

cooking,

canning,

Kathleen found a recipe for Peony Jelly and decided to try it. It turned out tasty and a gorgeous color but didn’t jell to a full jelly consistency, more like a warm jello consistency.

cleaning…

Okay, let’s be honest, cleaning impacts our schedule pretty minimally because we don’t do very much of it. Sweep the major floors (as opposed to the minor floors, right?) every couple days, and mop maybe once a fortnight-ish. We begin to see the wisdom in our ancestors’ division of labor, with one of the spouses primarily in charge of the outside, and the other primarily in charge of the inside.

But, welcome to America in the 21st century, where we both work outside the home at least 40 hours a week. And when we talk about the 40 hour work week, which became the American standard in the days when you lived within walking distance of your workplace, we don’t necessarily consider commute times which varies in Ryan’s case, but for Kathleen adds another 1-2 hours to her day, depending on traffic.

And of course, the small people continue to insist that we feed, clothe and shelter them. Or at least they would insist upon it if we ever fell far enough behind in these tasks for them to feel the pinch. Well, maybe not the clothing part. Ellie, for one, would be perfectly content to roam around in her diaper all day in this nice weather. And she has some rather colorful diapers, so it could potentially be borderline socially acceptable, and might save us about 1.5 minutes in the morning…

Ideas!

But who are we kidding? The one who takes up all the time in the morning is Evie. Sometimes all you can do is just keep them contained while you knock out a few quick tasks…

But I digress…

Deedee’s birthday was on Monday so we went out to all you can eat buffet on Sunday evening. We didn’t take any pictures of that, because, let’s face it, one AYCE buffet looks pretty much like any other. But we did take a picture of the girls playing in the mall play area afterwards.

You can see Deedee’s hands hold a phone on the right. Does this count as a picture of the birthday girl?

Happy Birthday, Deedee!

With the nice weather we have been having a little more success with our gardening. The cone flowers we planted back in march have come up.

Only two have come up, which means we probably put them in too early when the ground temperature was too cold and most of the seeds rotted. These two represent the survivors.

Ellie is getting bigger and more accomplished as a climber. She can now climb up in the net at the play ground, she can climb into the first crux of the Japanese maple by the deck, and she can climb out of her crib without assistance. She still can’t open the door of her room, but that’s a-comin’.

She had to join Daddy on some frantic errand running yesterday while he desperately (and unsuccessfully) tried to pull together all the stuff he needs to go out for annual training next tomorrow. The major piece of equipment he was looking for wasn’t ready, so improvisation will have to occur.

As usual.

But it was the Army’s birthday, and they had cake at Military Clothing and Sales, so that was a win!

She was done after 3 bites. Not much of a sweet tooth, that one.

And that’s all for this week, folks. We hope you have a wonderful rest of your weekend. God Bless!

Keep on trucking!

In which we go on an airplane trip! (Ellie’s first. Evie, of course, is a veteran traveler).

It was only a about a 75 minute flight to Kalispell, MT, but SEATAC is a busy airport in the morning, and we had to fight Seattle-bound morning traffic on the way to the airport. This meant early rising and being at the airport early and lots of excitement and missed naps.

Ellie approves of the trunk space.

The upshot being that we had two very tired baby girls who were passed out before we left the airport parking lot in Kalispell.

Arriving on Friday afternoon we didn’t really do a whole lot except buy groceries and get checked into our air BNB. Actually, I suppose we didn’t really get checked in because there was no one to check us in. We just, I don’t know, walked in.

Mommy and Ellie doing some coloring in our room.

After getting our clothes and food put away, we headed out to walk around the town. After being stuck in a carseat/airplane all day, our girls had some serious sillies they needed to shake out.

The town of Whitefish is very small, but has a fairly large grassy park that the girls could run around in with trees that they could climb. Or rather, a tree that Daddy could climb, and the girls could wish they could climb. Our rule is if you can’t climb it yourself, you can’t climb it at all.

And they had trains to watch!

It’s a touristy, artsy little town, well worth walking around in, but overall geared towards taking your money.

Although this bike is brilliant!

On Saturday we headed out for Glacier National Park. On the way we saw our first real wildlife of the trip…

Yes, that is a silver fox with a squirrel or ground hog in its mouth.

It rapidly became apparent that there were going to be some constraints on our trip. For one thing…

The park is HUGE! It covers millions of acres and crosses the border into Canada, and is home to five distinct climate and wildlife zones (Pacific Northwest, Alpine, Boreal forest, Grassland prairie and Rocky Mountain).

“Whoa, Mommy, that’s a big map!”

The park crosses the border, but the Canadian side of the park was on fire, (hence the hazy, smoky look to some of the pictures). We thought about going to Canada anyway, but there is only one road that crosses the park, known as “Going-to-the-sun Road,” and it was still blocked with snow from the winter. To get to the east side of the park, and from there to the Canadian side, we would have had to drive two hours around the south edge of the park. With two little people in car seats, that did not seem appealing. So we settled for exploring just the tiny little southwestern corner around Apgar visitor center and MacDonald lake.

But first we had to convince the girls that they could not have everything in the visitor center.

So we set out hiking from the visitor center. Evie was leading the way with Mommy…

Using the map in her national parks book to help us find the trail.

Yes, that is a picture map of the entire USA. She was quite sure she could find the trail on it.

It’s okay, Evie, we love you whether you know how to read a map at four years old or not.

We stopped at a bike rental station, but all the child trailers were out, so we reserved bikes for the following Monday and moved on. Evie and Ellie did not want to move on. They were quite content to play in the kayaks at the rental place.

MacDonald Lake was gorgeous, albeit somewhat obscured by smoke.

And it came supplied with rocks to throw and trees to climb!

After a picnic lunch we decided to rent a rowboat, as they are relatively stable and safe for rambunctious four-year-olds, and the price was very reasonable, less than $20 for an hour.

It was lots of fun. Evie is very excited about going out in Papa’s boat later this summer.

Huckleberry ice cream on the way back to the car.

It was a fun day, and we went to Confession and Mass for First Saturday in Whitefish. Afterwards we went out for supper, but this was a bit of a fiasco. Both girls were tired, and Ellie was so tired she couldn’t even eat properly.

Although she did try to eat the wooden bear’s wooden fish.

Evie and Ellie discovered the mesmerizing wonder of front-load washing machine, a.k.a. cat TV.

But after a good night’s sleep, we were up and at it again, heading south this time to a museum called “Miracle of America Museum.” This is a private collection of vintage historic artifacts running from pre-colonial to mid-20th century American history and culture.

Essentially the folks who run it are glorified hoarders who spent a lot of time organizing their hoard. But they had a ton of interesting stuff. I find it interesting that the see-saw, metal merry-go-round, and metal slide are now museum pieces. Are you kidding me? I grew up with those!

Some beautiful country out here.

That was a lot of time in the sun and heat for baby girl. She was plum tuckered out by the time we got to our picnic spot at Flathead Lake State Park (East).

So we had some lunch and then Evie went in the lake (as far as her ankles). Before long Ellie woke up and was so excited by the water that she didn’t even want to eat lunch. We couldn’t even get her to sit still for some sausage!

On the way back we drove through more absolutely beautiful countryside. We saw a couple of spreads that we would love to buy, and fell even more in love when we realized that they were within a mile of a Catholic Church!

Sure it only has Sunday services now, as far as we could see, but once we buy all the land, relocate the locals and move in the entire Kraeger clan the Catholic population will probably double and at that point we’ll rate a full time priest.

And check out the backdrop!

All in all, great Sunday. We went back to our room, nice and tired.

Monday we had to be up nice and early to be out there for our bike ride. Let’s just say, expensive, but BEST TIME EVER!

We are considering getting one of those trailers for home, although Puyallup is not very bike friendly. Most of the roads outside of downtown don’t even have a shoulder, let alone a bike lane.

Then back to Lake MacDonald for snacks and tree climbing.

Much clearer today than on Saturday.

After lunch we headed up Going-to-the-sun Road as far as the south end of MacDonald Lake. It was only a few miles but it was a long drive because they were busy resurfacing the road after winter damage. It wasn’t too terrible, though, because Ellie fell asleep and Evie enjoyed playing with her magnadoodle.

The Lake McDonald lodge was amazing! We were especially impressed by the fireplace.

I am pretty sure we are going to put one like it in our living room when we build our new house.

Lunch time outside the lodge, at the junction of the river and the lake.

That was another full day, and we topped it off with supper at Craggy Range Bar and Grill, which was phenomenal. We were very impressed with the burgers, which come with the top buns branded with the restaurant logo.

The Smokey Classis cocktail, quite interesting with real woodsmoke in the bottle! How crazy is that?!

And then it was Tuesday morning. Time to go home.

Evie loving her some coloring with her new travel activity bag.

Ellie, true to form, slept the whole flight.

Best traveling buddies!

Ellie, for one, is very glad to be back home where she can water her plants again.

The rest of us… Well, let’s just say there was something to be said about not having to drive in rush hour traffic. Kathleen got stuck behind these folks for about an hour on her way home from work last night.

And the worst part was they just drove like that for an hour and then sped up and drove away for no apparent reason. Silly WADOT!

That’s all for this week, folks. Have a great rest of your weekend, and remember to pray for us.

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!

Happy Friday, Ya’ll!

What’s that? A Family Friday on a Friday! Yes! It is a red letter day. It is also a short Family Friday. Ryan is winding down his last two weeks of PA school and that gives him a little bit of time off this week, to get to other things, and Family Friday happens to be one of them.

Last Sunday was a fun day. Our parish is planning their annual luau for June, and the island community (Hawaiians, Guamanians, Chomorros, Filipinos) always try to do a semi-traditional hula dance. I say semi-traditional, because they wear regular clothes and invite the white people to join in. This is a picture of their practice after Mass last Sunday. I think it’s funny that the white kids are all just watching in bewilderment. Is it genetic? Do we just not have rhythm? Do our hips lack the necessary fluidity? Are we born with sticks up our butts?

It remains a mystery. All we know is none of the white kids have joined in… yet.

After Mass we came home and prepped fondue for Adam and Maryanne and the kids, as well as Ronnie and Amanda and RJ.

Of course we made Adam work for his supper.

Fondue is actually quite easy with the right mix and a decent fondue pot. Ours is not enormous but it fed six adults quite easily.

It was cool enough outside for hot tea, so we sat out and watched the kids test the integrity of our hammock pole. Let’s just say, Evie plus the three neighbor kids may not weigh as much as Ryan and Kathleen…

Okay, they don’t weigh as much as Ryan by himself.

But they definitely swing a lot harder. They have almost inverted that thing a couple of times. So far no broken bones, but Ryan may need to dig that pole up and reset it, in concrete this time.

Which is a pity because our climbing honeysuckle is loving it there. Oh well. Those things are weeds anyway. Can’t kill ’em with an ax.

Ronnie getting ready to share some home-made lemoncello with Ryan and Adam.

We tested out the lemoncello. (For those keeping score, yes, it still counts as “testing it out” because we have to see how it ages at bottling, at plus 1 day, at +2 days, at +3 days, etc. So far it seems it starts out pretty smooth, but gets sharper as it ages.

We ended up having a ton of leftover dipping bread, because it turns out Ryan, Adam and Ronny are all prejudiced against carbs. But that didn’t stop us eating fruit, cake, ice-cream and tapioca pudding, because those are desert carbs. They are a different category.

It also didn’t stop us downing a couple of pints of porter each. Because those are conviviality carbs, which are also a protected category.

Evie is obsessed! with Cheetos!

Which is ironic, because that was Kathleen’s only major craving when she was pregnant with her. So much so that her work friends nicknamed Evie, “Cheeto.”

Ellie is very into togetherness at meal time. Her favorite meal is supper because Mommy and Daddy are both home. She likes to grab our hands and pull them both in front of her and make us hold hands in front of her tummy. Then she leans on our hands and eats over the top of them.

Because it’s cozier that way.

And Ellie passed her well-child check with flying colors. Daddy didn’t read the time right so we were quite early and spent about 45 minutes in the waiting room. That was okay though, because Ellie found some very interesting reading material.

She now knows all about how to get ready for a new baby. Which is good, I suppose. That knowledge may come in handy some day.

But before you ask, not in the next nine months as far as we know. LOL

‘Cause I know that’s what you were thinking.

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.

It’s summer-time, y’all!

Now technically, I get it, it isn’t summertime. YET! Technically! blah, blah, blah. But as my momma always said, “Summer is as summer does.”

Saturday before last was cloudy, chilly, windy, but we went out to the master gardener sale in Puyallup.

So did everyone else, apparently.

Unfortunately, they were fresh out of master gardeners for sale, so we settled for two tomatoes and two gerania (plural of geranium. Because Latin).

We also had to go to Costco to buy some big pots to put our new tomatoes in. The girls helped, of course.

We now have four pots of three different varieties of tomatoes! It is going to be awesome sauce!

Sunday morning was a good morning to look out the window and enjoy our bird-feeder.

Sunday before last was Divine Mercy Sunday. Evie was not feeling well in the morning, but she felt much better after sleeping most of the morning. We celebrated by having Adam and Maryanne and the kids over for a pig-wrapped-pig roast.

That’s right. That’s pork loin wrapped in bacon. Grilled low and slow to (almost) perfection, it was quite delectable.

So much fun, letting the little folks run around outside, even though Mommy had to take Evie to Mass in the evening to make up for her being sick in the morning.

That’s really the whole point of having a back yard, so that the kids can play in it.

Since then the weather has mostly been really nice. It is chilly in the mornings, and our lupins collect dew.

But it gets warm enough by evening for us to hang out in the hammock and read books or play bubbles after supper, until bedtime.

Sometimes we just like to stroll along the edge of the garden and watch it growing. That is how we discovered this sign of hope on the ancient grapevine we transplanted from Deedee and Papa’s house back in February.

See? Life goes on (Oh-bla-dee, Oh-bla-dah). That grapevine is over fifty years old, but it will come back yet, probably next year. Right now it is probably building its roots under the dirt where we can’t see, but it ain’t finished yet.

Life goes on, Blessed Be the Lord!

It has been a busy couple of weeks, and last weekend was the busiest part of it because it was drill weekend. Silly National Guard.

Ryan looks super thrilled about this whole Airborne thing. Diego, on the other hand, is stoked!

Airborne is not really his thing. Heights, you know.

Meanwhile, Mommy kept him abreast of everything going on at home. Such as…

New shoes for the Ellie!

Fashion shows…

New hair styles…

And breakfast drama…

Kathleen took the girls up to visit Deedee and Papa. Deedee had a hip replacement on Monday and they wanted to wish her a happy recovery. She is recovering quite well, actually, and is done with the walker and graduated to a cane.

Papa and Uncle Pat had gotten the play house re-roofed and open for business!

Then Kathleen took the girls to Dude’s house and dropped them off there and then had a wonderful evening going to a baby sale with Amanda. (That’s what those two do for fun, they bargain hunt). Daddy got done with drill early enough to take the girls to the Saturday evening vigil Mass, which was good because he was working all day Sunday.

They love the grotto at Saint Andrew’s.

This is the sort of logistical nightmare we have every drill weekend. But by Sunday afternoon it was over, and Daddy could start growing his beard again and come home to see what his girls had been up to.

Evie built a bridge. She says it is “over troubled waters.”

Evie and Mommy made bread together.

Then we sat on the hammock while Evie fed us soup that she had made herself.

The week chugs on as usual, busy days, and a valiant effort to keep the one or two hours we have in the evening between getting home and going to bed as casual as possible. I think it was Greg Popcak who said that the strongest marriages in his practice spend at least 14 hours together per week. When we’re both working full time, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for extra-curricular activities.

God is good. Most of our stress is self-inflicted. Even half an hour a day to sit and be together is a priceless gift.

Have a great weekend, enjoy Family Friday on a Friday for a change. God Bless!

Happy Easter Week, everyone!

Tri-tips roasting on an open fire.

For those who don’t know, Catholics are supposed to celebrate Easter for a whole week. If you haven’t gotten on that yet, you still have a whole day to get your celebrate on! Plus, tomorrow is Divine Mercy Sunday. I can’t think of many things more important to celebrate than Divine Mercy, since none of us are getting to Heaven without it.

So do yourself a favor, dust off an old cookbook (for you TLM folks out there, I am sure you can find a pre-1962 liturgical cookbook written in Latin) get your kids together, assign some tasks, and get cooking. Make something delicious together, eat it together.

This was a particularly delicious dish (asparagus wrapped in prosciutto). It has unique spiritual symbolism, in that it represents all of our highest spiritual longings.

Don’t believe me? I shall explain:

  • The vegetable represents our hope for higher things. That’s why it’s called “aspire-agus.”
  • We wrap it in the prosciutto of happiness
  • Season it with zest
  • And pour over it the olive oil of gladness.
  • Plus, prosciutto is pretty much like bacon, so it’s awesome.

Or, if the weather is nice in your neck of the woods, get out and hike. Or plant a garden. It’s easy! Get yourself a hoe and some seeds, chop up a few square feet of your front lawn (get rid of all that useless grass, best to take it out by the roots or it will come back) and put the seeds in the dirt.

Apples in bloom on either side of our greenhouse.

On Easter we had Deedee and Papa and Dude over, along with Uncle Pat and Aunt Patty, and Travis and his girlfriend Savannah. Between them the girls made out like bandits.

Deedee and Dude filled about three dozen eggs, which Travis and Savannah cleverly concealed all over the lawn.

Everyone loves watching little kids find eggs, even if there is entirely too much candy for two very small children to eat.

We grownups don’t have as much energy, so we mostly celebrate in a more sedentary fashion.

And then we finished up with a rousing game of “Ticket to Ride” which was the first time we have played it with all five players. Let me tell you, the board gets way more crowded with five players.

And the rest of the week we have tried to be at home enjoying ourselves as much as possible, thanking Jesus for the gift of His resurrection.

The girls playing dress-up together (they are superheros. They apparently have not been following Edna’s advice.)

Especially Ellie.

The Daddy is slowly learning how to do hair, since we seem to have so much of it around the house.

So is Ellie.

And that’s all for this week, folks. Remember, It’s still Easter until Sunday.