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I am a God-loving, husband-adoring, mybabyboys-hugging, mind-reeling, photo-taking, life-documenting, yummyfood-cooking, garden-planting, country-living girl. Writing about life, with boys, in the sticks...
this is life... with boys... in the country...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Taco Soup

For some people, the onset of fall means going back to school… for most it means the changing of leaves… for me, it means re-introducing slow cooking to my kitchen.  It actually excites me to be able to say good-bye to the ‘light’ meals of the previous months; the meals that we are stuck with during summer because it is either too hot and our bodies can’t handle the weight of rich foods or because it is too hot in the house for slow-cooking usually required for hearty dishes.  I love a meal that can be put together in-advance and left on the stove to seep together flavors and all the while, filling our house with aroma…

One of our favorites that falls into this category is Taco Soup.  I completely, can not take credit for this recipe… it is ALL Paula Deen.  And this recipe is so easy, that if you have a pot, a stir stick and a can-opener, you can handle it.  Quickly, too, because it is a dump-and-go soup … dump the ingredients in and go rest for an hour till it is done (or clean up the messes in the kitchen that have accumulated all day). 

 Sep-26-2010_tacosoup_1986ed Sep-26-2010_tacosoup_1990ed 

Ingredients 

2 pounds ground beef

2 cups diced onions

2 cans pinto beans (include liquid)

1 can pink kidney beans (include liquid)

1 can corn, drained

1 can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can tomatoes with chilies

1 7oz can diced green chilies

1 4.6oz can sliced black olives, drained

1 package taco seasoning mix

1 package ranch salad dressing mix

corn chips, cheese, sour cream, avocados for garnish

Directions

Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet, drain the excess fat then transfer the browned beef and onions to a large pot (I actually do it all in the big pot).  Add remaining ingredients, mix together and simmer over low heat for about an hour on the stove, or in a large crock pot for about 6 hours. 

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I channel back to my days of Seattle Summer Swim League and the yummy Frito-ban Ditos they’d sell at the swim meets, and eat my soup OVER the corn chips, topped with cheese and sour cream… and avocados if I’m lucky!  

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Eye-Opening, Re-affirming Experience…

Have you ever met someone that is so talented, passionate, energetic, and beautiful that you’re left feeling a bit… lacking?  And on top of that they are incredibly nice AND Christian, so it makes feeling anything but inspired by them just wrong? 

Enter Andria. She’s a photographer out of Seattle and when my cousin Lindsay was selected to receive a photo-shoot done by Andria, I hesitated not a second, before asking if I could come along to observe.  In the photography world, allowing an outsider on a shoot is not common-place, but then again, Andria isn’t your common photographer.  I thought I’d be at the heals of a long-seasoned pro… she’s 23 and has been doing this for a year.  The more I mull that over in my head I am, again, feeling lacking.

The shoot happened a few weeks ago and I watched, mostly silently, grabbing Lindsay an outfit here and there, but for the most part just trying to stay-out of the way and not hinder their groove.  I took a few shots of Andria shooting and I regret not getting the one of her laying down on the floor in this coffee-shop… but at least now, I know, that it is okay to lay on the floor of a coffee-shop to get the shot.      Sep-11-2010_3Lindaysshoot

As I observed I watched the light, the interaction between Lindsay and her fiancé, Josh, and of course, Andria’s roll in it all.  She wasn’t only “taking pictures” she was giggling, encouraging, instructing, and  relating.  She puts it perfectly in her blog… she gave them an ‘experience’.  I kept thinking, ‘Oh, I hope she got that expression… or that squeeze… or that side glance…or that giggle’ and now that I’ve seen some of their photos on her blog I am pretty sure she never took her finger off of the shutter-button!  Because it wasn’t only the ‘poses’ that she photographed, she captured the in between moments that are often times the best. 

Sep-11-2010_1lindsaysshoot As much as I wanted to be totally into and consumed by the experience, my heart-strings were being pulled each time I thought about my boys, who were at Grammie’s house, giving her a run for her money.  The shoot went until after 8pm and I knew I was asking A LOT of my mom and the boys to allow me this opportunity. At the time, (remember, AT THE TIME) I was thinking that even if I WAS feeling ready to start portfolio building, I couldn’t because it was too hard to be away from my kids for that long… 

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But fast-forward a few weeks and now I’m feeling restless.  Restless with JUST doing this… motherhood.  I am not saying I want to give anything UP… I don’t want to hand my kids over to anyone else.  But all of these thoughts are coming at a time when respect from the wee-ones up to their mama and daddy is wavering.  We have numerous challenges throughout the day with Gage and Cooper being too rough with each other, being selfish, sassy, overly emotional and ornery.  I can manage this.  I HAVE to because it is my responsibility and I LOVE them… they are my number one responsibility… but doing it day after day after day, makes me feel, again, LACKING.  I am longing for an outlet… just a little something else in addition to motherhood. 

I think back on how my head raced with possibilities during this shoot.  And I think, too, about the freedom and energy Andria seemed to ooze… two things I have in very short supply.  I’m typically not a jealous person – the Lord tells us not to covet and in general, I feel very content with my life.  But I can’t help but long for a snippet of that freedom and energy and I’m praying that someday I can have that from photography… 

Sep-11-2010_4Lindsaysshoot

Anyway, observing this shoot was eye-opening and it re-affirmed many things I know to be true about life and photography…  I saw how critical the interaction is between photographer and her subjects.  I saw how important it is for the subjects to feel comfortable and to just be natural.  I saw how beneficial it can be to shoot a lot of frames.  I saw how important it is to for a photographer to know their style and for clients to, thus, pick accordingly. I saw how critical good lighting is to my style of photography, but for others no light can make for some pretty artsy stuff! But even among these lessons, the two best BEST things I saw because of this photo-shoot were:  the love between Lindsay and Josh… and the look of love on Kaden’s face when I walked through the door. 

After-all, LOVE is what its all about. 

To see Lindsay’s beauty, to see her Love for Josh, and to see Andria’s artsy, unique style, go HERE… and HERE… and HERE…

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Did I Do This Weekend??

Yesterday, I filled you in on the productivity of my husband… for the life of me, I can’t think of what I spent my days doing that was productive.  But I can tell you what I spent my nights doing… sleeping!  For the first time in 9 months, I spent my nights SLEEPING, rather than traveling up and down the stairs every 2-3 hours to nurse Kaden.  How did this happen?  Let me tell you…

He cried it out. 

I was going to put this off until after our next trip to Seattle, but the opportunity presented itself and we went with it. 

Thursday night, I was playing in my scrapbook room and Matt came in around 8:15 and asked “How long has Kaden been crying?”  I gasped… what?  I hadn’t even heard him!  We knew he was well-fed (he’d only gone down about a half-hour before) so, Matt encouraged me to stay-put and we’d just see what he’d do.  (Which is interesting, because this is so similar to how it went down with Cooper 3 years ago, when we made him cry it out… it started at 8:30 one evening, and by Matt’s insistence…) About a half-hour later, he stopped crying with NO intervention from us.

We knew he could do it.  And the time felt right.  So, when he woke again at 10:30, when I’d just gotten into bed, I listened to him cry.  Again for about half-an-hour.  Surprisingly, I didn’t cry myself… I knew he was okay.  I heard him again around 4:30 but that only lasted about 5 minutes.  And then I raced into his room at 8:30am when he finally, HAPPILY called for me.  I couldn’t get him to nurse fast enough.  Let me tell ya… going from nursing every 3 hours to suddenly having a 13-hour stretch!!  What??  I didn’t realize it was that long until I typed it… crazy.  Anyway, I was FULL and a hurtin’ unit. 

The next night was even better, and last night, I heard him let out a cry at 8:30 and then not another peep until 6am.  So, now, he’s going 11 hours, straight!  Last week at this time, I was up every-other-hour with him!

I’m not sure, yet, if he’s a happier baby during the day.  Which does bring me to realize what I did during my weekend DAYS.  I nursed.  ALOT.  And saw this…      Sep-25-2010_Kaden4Sep-25-2010_Kaden3  Sep-25-2010_Kaden2A LOT.  Kaden was seriously making up for lost time.  Where-ever I was, there HE was, at my feet, either just sitting or pulling up on my legs. And whenever my arms weren’t busy, I was holding him.  

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Which was fine by me…  because I may have been going through a little Mama/Kaden-time withdrawal myself and if it is possible, I think I find him even more precious than I did 4 days ago!  :)   

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What Did You Do This Weekend? My Husband Was BUSY…

Matt got started working really hard this weekend on fixing the railing on our front porch, which had begun rotting about a day after we moved into our house.  5 years ago. 

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Seriously, he did some mighty fine craftsmanship and built us a railing that’ll last (and is low enough that it doesn’t block my view of the field!)…

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And in between some hunts, he fulfilled Gage’s plea by helping him build a boat… (sorry these pictures are a bit wonky… I’d SO hoped that this template would work wonders at condensing my photo quantity, but in doing so, if for some reason really reduces the quality of the images…)

BoatbuildingWEB And since it was Friday and during ‘school time’, Matt took the opportunity to be Teacher-for-The-Day and turned it into math and woodworking education.  It MADE Gage’s day… and made Daddy a hero.

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And then on Saturday, he harvested some blackberries … with his little helper in tow. 

September25,20102pictureAnd we made our way to the pond to set the boat-a-float…

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(Just seconds after I snapped the above photo of Gage, we watched Cooper racing after him, wind in his hair, shouting after Gage, “Doot Doo!  I have to tell you something about GYPSIES!”  WHAT?? And then BOOM… he tripped and tumbled into a ball, totally biting it.  I braced myself for the tears but as quickly as he’d hit the ground he was up and running again.  I laughed until there were tears in my eyes!)

Back to the boat…

Sugar-Cookies4  Once it launched, Gage was immediately concerned about how it would make its way back to the shore.  No worries, when you have a waterdog…

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… or a tape measure.  Again, for the second time this weekend, Dad was a hero.  

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These boys finished up their weekend by going for a ‘man hunt’.  Evidently Gage took it WAY too seriously and scolded Bosley time and again for scaring away the animals (should we tell him he wasn’t actually hunting??)  But, again, for the third time this weekend, Matt was their hero. 

Matt also bottled his most recent batch of homebrew (beer), but I didn’t take any photos of that because I was in my room working on these pictures and this post… I’m not sure what I think of the processing on these images… I was going for an antiquey look, but I think they came out looking more dirty.  I don’t think this is my ‘style’ but I’m going to go with them anyway…

And I have big news tomorrow about what I did this weekend (much in thanks, also, to Matt), and it has to do with this little guy…

thatlittleguy …stay tuned!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Five on Friday…

I think I’m going to start doing this regularly… each Friday sharing five random things that have been on my mind, but that haven’t made it into their own individual blog post.  Or maybe they have and I have something new to add… or maybe its a little thought that will later be expanded on in a later post.  Plus, probably some pictures that I like, but haven’t shared yet…

I have no problem admitting that I got this idea from Erin Cobb’s blog, but hers is Ten on Tuesday.  I’m just not sure I can come up with 10 random things, so I’ll start modestly at five…

1) I posted yesterday about Kaden getting stuck places in our ever-growing-more-cluttered-by-the-day-house, but sometimes, he CHOSES to get stuck.  Like here…  Sep-13-2010_trouble … he didn’t want to be IN the excersaucer, but immediately when I let him out, he climbed under it and was content for awhile, but soon regretted the tight quarters.

2.  Did you watch Modern Family on Wednesday night?  So. Funny. and it is one of the 2 weeknight shows we are committed to watching.  I’m a little anxious for the show, now, though, since they won Best Comedy at the Emmy’s.  The Office (our other favorite) went down hill after they did (and after their writers quit) because they may feel the pressure now to keep up the funnies.  If the first episode of this new season is any indication, though, I think they are going to be just fine. 

3.  Below you see a few examples of how I had to exercise my new attempt at HOW to get a picture of my boys actually looking at me and smiling nicely… funny-face picture, first…

Sep-14-2010_fence1September Sep-14-2010_fence2September … then supposedly a nice-smiling picture… but Cooper looks like he smelled something really bad. 

Sep-14-2010_fence3September 4.  Did you know that even though potatoes (like apples) can be stored in a cool, dark place for a long time, ONE BAD POTATO CAN QUICKLY RUIN THE WHOLE BATCH.  I learned this the hard way, and inquired in the Safeway produce department about it.  Sure enough, because they are so sugary, if one of the potatoes in the bag has a slight ‘problem’ it will ooz and mold and soon the rest will follow suit.  And to quote both the produce guy and my unsuspecting-husband, “IT SMELLS LIKE DEATH.”  So check your ‘tatoes before you store them… 

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5.  Speaking of ‘tatoes… this little tater-tot is still giving me heck in the sleep department.  He doesn’t know it yet, but the countdown has begun till we make him ‘Cry It Out’.  When we get back from our next trip to Seattle, its game on.  By then he’ll be 9 months old and will have had his check-up and if he’s healthy and I get his pediatricians go ahead (for the 3rd time) I WiLL go with this method.  Last night I was up with him every other hour until I finally brought him into bed with me at 4:30am.  And then proceeded to wake up with him, still, every hour or so when he’d wake with a startled cry.  Finally, at 7am, I woke up to him sucking on my face, as happy as could be.

Have a GREAT weekend!    

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The New ‘White Glove’

Nothing… not even the notorious white glove… lets you know how, um, messy?  Un-kept? your house is until you have a crawling baby.  Suddenly, you’re on a mad-dash to pick up everything and that just makes you realize just how much there actually is to pick up.  Because everything is fair game in this baby’s book… the socks Daddy took off last night and left by the couch.  The crispy, dried spaghetti noodle that fell from big brother’s fork last night at dinner.  The (thankfully unplugged) hairdryer cord that dangles from Mama’s bathroom counter.  Whatever he can crawl to, is fair game to go into the mouth. 

Since Kaden started crawling I have fished so many unfortunate things out of his mouth, that I don’t even know where to begin.  Earplugs, leggos, wrappers, lint, food crumbles, playdough (new/soft and old/hard), fir needles, paper (lots and lots of paper), toy car wheels, rocks, grass … the list goes on and on.  And surprisingly, I’ve only noticed that one thing actually got swallowed… and that was a piece of pea-gravel.   Kaden1In addition to what his sticky little fingers find to put into his mouth, there is all the stuff around the house he his having to maneuver around and over – another indication that our house is cluttered. I find him high-centered while attempting to crawl over mounds of toys.  I find him pinned in a corner because he can’t find his way around all the baby this’s and that’s.  I find him stuck under chairs because, well, he gets himself stuck.  That’s kind of his own fault.    

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I need to go through this house, on my hands and knees, and clean.  Because if it is there on the floor, this boy will find it.  Clear plastic wrapper or not. 

Kaden3 And I know, these pictures don’t seemingly have anything to do with this subject matter… but on the contrary. 

After taking them, I realized just how dusty my hardwood floor was… Kaden’s green knees were then grey.  Oiy. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

From This Weekend…

The boys and I were back up in Seattle again this past weekend – mostly for a girlfriend’s bachelorette party but of course for some family time, as well. I have to state it here, that Grammie took care of these boys for 5 and a half hours and successfully put all of them to bed by herself.  This is amazing to me considering nursing is still a crutch for ni-night time. I guess they may just love their Grammie a little more than me… 

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(This isn’t the most flattering picture of Kaden, but it shows his two little crooked teeth, so I thought I’d share…)

Sep-19-2010_grammies_1855nr  Grammie wasn’t the only recipient of Kaden’s adoration… he found himself a new friend…

Sep-19-2010_grammies_1873edA little family gathering fell into our laps on Sunday and as the boys put it “It’s like CHRISTMAS!” and it kind of was.  Minus the little bit of stress, huge meal, and cold weather.  It was so great because I was TOO busy visiting to even take pictures.  Relaxing and visiting.  Until I was packing up the kiddos and found this delightful little scene which begged for my camera to emerge…  Sep-19-2010_grammies_1894ed

Cooper and his cousin, Lilly, were completely transfixed on none-other-than Dora the Explorer.  Coop’s never laid eyes on her before, and likely will never again.  But the lighting was great and I often find that kids who are mesmerized by the TV are easy subjects to photograph. 

Pretty Little Lilly-bean…

Sep-19-2010_grammies_1879ed …bless her heart for wanting her picture taken…

Sep-19-2010_grammies_1880ed … so, okay… I’ll oblige…

Sep-19-2010_grammies_1881ed I’d get nothing done if this were my kid… I’d just stare at her eyes, all. day. long.

Sep-19-2010_grammies_1889ed And then there is Lilly’s little sister, Sarah.  What a doll-baby.  And with some tough tootsies, too…

Sep-19-2010_grammies_1895ed Sep-19-2010_grammies_1898ed  I was supposed to be getting the boys into the car for our 3.5-hour drive home, but I just couldn’t stop following this one around all the cars, snapping photos as we went…

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Until her Grammie ushered her back to softer ground and gave me no choice but to start our drive south. 

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It never ceases to amaze me how much I love this family and how incredibly much I miss them when we’re apart. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oktoberfest and Molalla-hosen

Every year… year after year… we look forward to our 15-minute drive to Germany… okay, to Mt. Angel.  To celebrate Oktoberfest, AKA: O-fest.   Sep-16-2010_Ofest7

The Mt. Angel version of the historical harvest festival started back in 1966 and is now celebrated each September.  Why September?  Because “Oktoberfest” is a generic word meaning ‘Harvest Celebration’ and in these parts, its celebrated around the time of the hops being harvested. But even in Munich most Harvest festivals are in September, too. 

Mt. Angel itself was settled in the 1800s by German pioneers, so the small town-community honors its roots by closing its main streets and welcoming thousands to enjoy a variety of ethnic foods, music, traditional Biergarten, Weingarten and Alpinegarten, and traditional Bavarian-attire (Trachten)… lederhosen and bavarian dresses are in abundance.  I think those involved in the planning of the festival have to wear the appropriate clothing, but I’m not sure of the motivation for all the rest…

Speaking of the attire, we saw some family friends while we perused the streets and they acknowledged the boys’ Carhartt clad-selves… Matt said, “Yup, they’re wearing their Molalla-hosen!” Clever, clever husband. 

Anyway, we headed into O-Fest for lunch on their opening day (which is always the second Thursday after Labor Day) and had to go right to the hand-made Corn-dogs.  That begs the question… is all the food sold at O-Fest traditional Bavarian cuisine?  I don’t think so, but I do think that inside this delicious corn-dog wasn’t just any old hotdog.  Authentically inspired O-fest sausage, perhaps?? Either way, the boys love them. 

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As my little ducklings followed their daddy through the crowded streets, I was quickly reminded of how rarely these boys see this many people at once.  Kaden never made a sound he was so overwhelmed.  And Gage and Cooper became totally introverted and consumed by their corn-dogs.  So much so, that they failed to notice all the people surrounding them and consequently ran into numerous passer-byers.   

Sep-16-2010_Ofes4 And then they became even more unaware of their surroundings when I introduced a slushy-like strawberry-lemonade.  These two, and the lemonade, were in their own little world. 

Sep-16-2010_Ofes7 Sep-16-2010_Ofest1 And it didn’t take long for me to venture into my own little world… little piece of heaven that is… when I weaved my way through the crowd to the Berliner stand. Again, I don’t know how ‘German’ this sandwich is other than the fact it is made on “German Rye Bread,” but I don’t really care.  It is SO. SO. good.  

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At 1pm, as it does everyday (as well as at 11, 4 and 7) the Glockenspiel, played.  According to their website the Glockenspiel “celebrates Mount Angel’s rich history, Germanic culture and …world famous Oktoberfest.” And when it plays, everyone stops (except for those two guys in the picture below) and if you move and don’t honor the Glockenspiel’s performance, it is almost as if you’re getting up and leaving church during a prayer.  Not really, but kind of.  

Sep-16-2010_Ofest8 So, we stood and paid our respects…

Sep-16-2010_Ofest9 … and then walked onward in pursuit of Matt’s Rueben.  Another O-Fest favorite. 

Back in the day (when Matt first started attending), O-Fest meant fun in the Biergarten.  Friends, stickers, beer. 

Now it means stuffing our faces with delicious food as quickly as possible before we loose one of our chittlins in the crowd.

But O-fest will ALWAYS mean a good-German-inspired-time.  

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(Lederhosen are not required.)