Karlie's 2 Wheels!

Ahh to be the first born. Every new milestone is carefully documented and recorded in the baby book. The first steps, first food, first tooth, first words, first pee in the potty, first day of school and of course the first time they manage to figure that crazy contraption we call a bike out. Now as you move on down the line in birth order, these milestones are still important but somehow don't attract quite the same attention.

I look at Hailey's baby book and it is overflowing with all the things that happened in her first five years. Then I shamefully glance at Hank's that I haven't touched since he was 6 months old. Karlie and Kaitlin fall in between. I always swore I wouldn't be one of those moms. Well, in keeping with my failures. I didn't document the first time Karlie learned to ride a bike on her own. We had just moved into our new house and she was desperate to ride in front just like Hailey. So we took the training wheels off and I figured she wasn't ready but I would give it a go just to show her I was right. I was wrong. She took off like she had done it before. After a few times of me running behind her just in case, she had it.

She hasn't looked back. This one scares me. She has an exceptionally high pain tolerance and not an ounce of fear. Bad combination. We have a huge concrete patio in our backyard that she makes obstacle course and jumps on. She often appears on the brink of out of control. She has endured more wrecks in 2 months than Hailey has her entire bike riding career. Yet Karlie rarely cries. She just gets back on and with a determined grimace tries her "sick trick" again. This was about the third time she had been on the bike. So I had to post about her success on the bike not only because my guilt was nagging me, but I wanted to show you how good she was before she kills herself. :0)

Blocks are For Babies

I was doing the dishes and herd Hank in the pantry. He is always pulling paper plates, snacks, bags and anything he can reach out of the pantry and making a general mess of the place. Sometimes I am even lucky enough to clean up the trash he has dug out of the trash can. The sounds of banging didn't sound familiar so I peeked over the counter to find him stacking beer cans and knocking them down. No blocks for this dude. :)

I Think They Missed the Memo

Apparently they thought it was the first day of summer and not the first day of fall yesterday. It was a high of 51 degrees and they were prancing around like this. Kids!

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

We have all heard the saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor away... There is just nothing better than an Apple. Even Hank is on board with a little daily Apple.

Rude Awakening

What is up with America?  I am so embarrassed over the behavior of our politicians, elite athletes and entertainers.  In the last week we have seen the President of our country heckled by a congressman, a top tennis player curse and threaten the judge for a call she disagreed with, and a musician make a spectacle of himself.  What has happened in America?
This is what our kids get to see as role models. Ill behaved politicians that don't even have respect for the President, regardless if they agree with him or not. Poor sports and entertainers that have no boundaries at all. America had better get a handle or we face a really rude and out of control society in our children's future. I have to wonder if the rampant rudeness and lack of respect seen doesn't somehow relate to the evaporation of God as our foundation within our society. Taking the highest and most important authority out of our everyday lives seems to be leading to a culture that no longer values respect at any level. I hope we can instill in our kids respect for themselves, their parents, their teachers, their country and God despite a rude America that surrounds them.

“The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.”
~Benjamin Franklin

Berries and Chilies and Toads... Oh My!

Last week the kids had off two days from school for assessment testing and we took a field trip to a nearby farm to pick some berries and experience the farm life.  The kids had a blast (and so did I)!

This pig was just wandering around the picnic area.  Is it possible to be an obese pig?  He was so fat you couldn't see his eyes and his belly and cheeks drug on the floor.  Karlie and Hailey pet him and then the words swine flu drifted through my mind a little too late as we sat eating our lunch.
The instant Hank saw the tractor there was no hope of doing anything else.  He was determined to drive it and only mildly appeased that we got to ride in the trailer behind it out to berry patch.
There were strawberries as far as you could walk.  The kids were eating them hand over fist.  Again, I was not thinking and left the epi pen in the car how ever many acres away and only thought of it as I watched Hank take a giant bite of a ripe strawberry (which he is allergic to).  I might as well have just taken the poor kid on a peanut factory tour.  I  haven't completely registered the allergy situation yet.  I considered sprinting to the car but decided to just watch and see how he did.  To my delight he did great.  Not a single hive or wheeze or red face.  I am eager to see what his allergy test say in October. 
We went with one of my girlfriends and her daughter.  Kaitlin was quite the mommy to Claire and helped her pick berries and find her way through the field.
The field was full of tiny toads that Hailey had a blast catching and playing with.  Hopefully we won't end up with warts and swine flu at the same time. :0)
Karlie thought they were pretty cute too.
We picked three pounds of raspberries.  I had never eaten Golden raspberries and they are worth their weight in gold!  They are more mild and sweeter than the red ones.  I went out and bought a golden raspberry bush this weekend to plant in the garden since they were so delicious.

In addition to berries they had an entire farmer's market and were roasting chili peppers.  They smelled so good, I couldn't resist.  Along with the chilies they handed out a Chili Relleno  Casserole Recipe.  I had to modify it a bit to make it kid friendly but am looking forward to trying an "adult batch" next time.

Chili Relleno Casserole 
In parentheses is the "adult" version
5 (10-12) roasted Anaheim chilies with skins and seeds removed
6 oz of Asadero and 6 oz Queso Fresco Cheese  *4 Mexican cheese blend works too.  I also only used 8 oz of cheese total.
5 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 large tomato diced (1/4 cup onion)
Sliced avocado to top with.

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Lightly spray a 9X9 baking pan with cooking spray and place diced chilies on the bottom.
3.  Blend 6 oz of the each cheese together and spread over peppers.
4.  Mix eggs, milk, flour, salt and pepper together.  If using onion, add them too.
5.  Pour egg mixture over cheese and chilies.
6.  Top with tomato.
7.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until set and lightly browned.
8.  Serve with avocado on top and a tortilla on the side.
This is one way to get your morning kicking!

While we might have been able to almost eat 3 pounds of raspberries, we also picked two pounds of strawberries.  Kids can be helpful when they want to be. :)  I had to do something with all that goodness.  Why not add cheese cake?

Raspberry Cheesecake Bars from Cooking Light
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
3 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla divided
3 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1 Tbsp lemon juice
8 oz package of 1/3- less fat cream cheese
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries.  I used a mixture of red and golden for fun.

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Combine flour and salt with a whisk.
3.  Combine butter, brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and eggs in a medium bowl until smooth.
4.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture until just moist.
5.  In a large bowl mix 1/2 tsp vanilla, sugar, sour cream, lemon rind, lemon juice, and cream cheese.  Beat with a mixer on high speed until fluffy.
6.  Line a 13 X 9 baking pan with foil that extends 1 inch beyond the sides.  Coat foil with cooking spray.
7.  Spread half of batter into pan then pour cream cheese mixture over batter in pan.  Spread evenly.
8.  Sprinkle with raspberries.
9.  Drop remaining batter over raspberries by tablespoonfuls.
10. Swirl with a knife.
11.  Bake for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
12.  Cool completely then remove from pan by lifting foil.  Cut into 30 bars and remove foil from bottom.
13.  Eat as many as you can before you let the kids know you made them!

Pig Roast!

We had a pig roast BBQ with 50 of our friends and family to celebrate our new house. We have never had a pig roast and it was a fun way to feed a lot of people and a memorable experience.

I went out to the the farm and picked up the pig on Friday. The butcher kindly loaded him into the car for me and we were off.  When I got home I tried to lift him into the garage where I could cover him with ice. It would have been a great scene for funniest bloopers. I thought I would have no problem lifting 89 pounds. Wrong. As I lifted him out of the back I realized a little too late he was more than I could handle. At that point I didn't have enough leverage to put the half of him I was holding back in the car, so I pleaded with Karlie to grab the roller chair. She grabbed it and we flung his rear end on the chair. I was imagining what my well healed neighbors must be thinking as they see me struggling with a large pink body in a clear plastic bag with blood in it. Karlie was trying her best to help me as I wrestled the pig onto the chair while Kaitlin was standing motionless in shock and Hank was still strapped in his car seat screaming to get out(Hailey was still in school). Together we wheeled and drug Porkie to his resting spot. We carefully lowered him and covered him with ice. Next time I will make Max pick-up the pig!
Karlie was very interested in the pig and was poking its eyes and wanting Max to tell her about all the parts. She found the spinal cord especially interesting. Kaitlin on the other hand was completely grossed out and worried about the pig. She nearly cried when Max pulled out the juice injector and gave him a "shot." We tried to explain that nothing was hurting him, but she wasn't buying it. Maybe the blood running out of the pig's nose was too much for our sensitive little lady. Hailey was at horse lessons and missed out on all the gory fun.
Max had a lot of fun prepping the pig.  Although he kept comparing it to human autopsies which was a bit more information than I needed. :)
In a little over 5 hours Porkie was ready to turn to crisp the skin side.
We borrowed the pig box from our friends which made roasting the pig so easy.  Max just kept adding coals every half hour and we ended up with delicious shredded pork that we served with BBQ sandwich options.  Costco was my caterer.  With a few watermelons, chips and 5 large apple pies, we had a feast!

Everyone was very interested in how to cut up the pig.  Thankfully Great Grandpa was there to show Max a thing or two about butcherin a hog.
Karlie took the prize for most pork consumed per body weight. She would grab a shoulder or a rib and go to town. This is why we call her Karlie the Carnivore!
We set up the volleyball net and played a few games.  The only problem was that it was one of the warmest days of the summer and the sun was blaring down on us for most of the evening.  Aunt Kathleen lent us all her party gear.  The huge tent was a big blessing in the heat. I guess we will have to get a pool put in for the next party! :0)

Hank Style Lacrosse

Hank has grown very attached to my pasta fork lately. He carries it around all day and has a fit when I take it away for naps or to go somewhere. I figured he was using it to fend off his big sister who are forever trying to baby him, carry him, and play with him. Today he found a ball that fits in it just right. He loves to try to balance the ball while he walks and then squeals with delight when he throws it. I think we might have a lacrosse player on our hands.