Saturday, July 26, 2008

Good Morning America!

Well, we are here in NYC. Flew in this morning after waking at 4am! But we've had a GREAT trip so far--3,000 miles in. Ollie is with Grandma and Grandpa Smith, and we're enjoying our time here with Joel's sister, Sara and her husband, Kris. Monday morning we're going to watch the taping of Good Morning America--so if you are watching TV that morning--tune in! Maybe we'll be on TV!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Let's Hit the Road, Jack!

Here we go! Off on our vacation to see the sights, visit the family, and enjoy each other. We're leaving this afternoon to spend the night with friends in Nebraska, then traveling up to Saskatoon, Canada to see Kendall's grandparents (They've never met Ollie), over to Wisconsin to see Kendall's other grandparents, then on to Indiana to Joel's house. We've actually not been to his parents house for over two years! And they haven't seen Ollie since Christmas. So we'll leave him there for 5 days while we fly to New York City and spend time watching baseball, touring the sights, and eating good food. Joel's sister and her husband are also going with us. We get to see the Mets, Yankees, and Red Sox play! (We'll spend the last day in Boston) Once we fly back to Chicago--we'll spend 4 more days with Joel's family before heading home. So, see you in August!

Here are some pictures of Ollie helping me pack...
(he got in there all by himself and pulled that sticker off the's the funny video of his reaction...)

Oh yeah, and if you're thinking of taking advantage of this opportunity to break in and rob us for all we're worth--we have at least 17 pit bulls stationed randomly throughout our property waiting to pounce on robbers. So good luck.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I really couldn't think of a title. So that's it.

This has been a fun week--I have a few pictures of some fun things we did:
Went to Walmart.
Okay, so I thought this was a cute picture of them in their hats. But seriously, we were going to Walmart. And I do actually really enjoy that. Especially when we get to buy food.

Playing at the Hesston Sprinkler Park.
We met another mom and daughter at the park this morning for our play date. It was so fun. Ollie did NOT like the full power sprinklers--but this he could handle. He is cautious--that's one thing he gets from his mom!

Actually this was a perfect morning--we went for a walk, played outside, went to the water park, stopped at McDonalds for a free Vanilla Latte, and then went and saw Joel at work and stayed for a few minutes. Ollie even got a ride on the tractor!

Oh, and one more picture of the morning--we tried to get Ollie to kiss Abby--his friend. But he wouldn't--he just kept turning his head and going real close to her. It was so funny!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Salsa Recipe

For the many of you who asked--here is our salsa recipe. I can't take credit for it though--it came from my friend Abby Clark. I don't can salsa--I tried freezing it but didn't like the results. So this year, I'm not freezing salsa--just the tomatoes. Anyway--here's the recipe!

6 lbs tomatoes

¼ lb tomatoes, chopped

2 Tbsp garlic powder

¼ C lemon juice

1 ½ Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp cayenne pepper

1 ½ tsp ground cumin

1 red onion, chopped

1 white onion, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 jalapeno peppers (more or less to taste), chopped

1/3 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

Bring a large saucepan of water to steady boil. Briefly place 6 lbs tomatoes (3-4 at a time) into water to loosen skins and set color, (about 1 minute). Remove tomatoes from water, cool, peel, and squeeze with your hands to get rid of excess juice. Save juice for another use or discard. Crush very briefly in blender and pour into a large saucepan. Mix chopped tomatoes, garlic powder, lemon juice, salt, cayenne pepper, and cumin in saucepan with crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Mix in all onion, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro. Boil until veggies are soft and mixture has reached desired consistency, (about 5 minutes). Can in pint jars in boiling water canner.

Makes 5 pints.

Let me know if you try it, and how that works out!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


My mom always told me that she craved tomatoes while I was in utero. (I don't know that that is actually a word--it doesn't recognize it.) Anyway--that could explain my immense LOVE for tomatoes. We grew two different kinds this year--roma and big round ones. Our roma tomatoes are growing like crazy! We have probably picked over 60 in the last couple weeks, with many more still on the plant. Our others, the big round ones, are just starting to turn orange-ish red. By the way--Joel read that in high temperatures, about 90 degrees, its okay to pick tomatoes once they're orange-ish yellow--because they'll ripen well indoors. We have found that to be true!
Besides eating a bunch, we are freezing as many as we can. The pictures above show tomatoes after boiling the skins, and then after removing the skins. Into the freezer bags they'll go!

I will also make salsa again this year. We found an amazing salsa recipe, thanks to my friend Abby Clark. The other way I like to eat tomatoes is in salad--here's an amazing one from my sister-in-law, Karla:

Tomato salad (I really don't know what it's called)

Cherry tomatoes (or just cut up chunks of other kinds)
Chunks of mozarella cheese
Fresh basil torn or cut into smaller pieces (come to our house if you need some--it's taking over our garden!)
Red onions, cut up

*Now, I know Karla used a certain dressing on this--maybe balsamic vinaigrette? But I use anything--like Italian, or Sun Dried Tomato--they're all good. Just toss together, add a bit of dressing, and enjoy!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Goings On

This is a random collection of several things from the week--here goes!

Hair Cut #2
Ollie received his second hair cut this week--you wouldn't think he'd need it! But he gets such long hair in the back--and it's still so short on top. So Joel evened it out some.

Cuts and Bruises
On Thursday, Ollie fell off the porch step and scraped his forehead and nose. My mom saw him that night and mentioned that this would probably be how he'd look for the next few years! So we took a picture. Sure enough--since Thursday, he's fallen off a chair backward, and just today slipped on a wet spot and knocked his head again. Poor guy. Luckily, he has a high pain tolerance!

Joel, Ollie and I walked over to Joel's Aunt Marge's house today. We hadn't seen her for a while, so we hung out for a while and talked with her. She found a little doll for Ollie to play with, and upon finding out Ollie doesn't have one at home--gave him hers. I never thought to get one for him--but that's a great way for him to begin to understand the changes coming his way! It was so cute though--Ollie kept kissing that baby. He played with her quite a bit today. I bet the 'her' thing is prophetic...

Friday, July 4, 2008

Two Book Recommendations

This summer I've had lots of time to do one of my favorite things...READ!!! I have two new books that I've just finished that I'd like to recommend to my lady readers:

1. "Captivating" by John and Stasi Eldredge
He is the author of "Wild at Heart"--the book for men. This is the women's version, kind of. Anyway--it is excellent. It is all about discovering your heart and who God truly made us to be--not the typical female roles--but who God designed us deep inside to be. It's so good. If you read it--be prepared to go deep--it addresses quite a few heart issues--but it is SO worth it. It also follows a theme that's continued to come up in my life lately--God's incredible love for us. So, if you're in need of a really encouraging book--try this one!

2. "Mom...and Loving It!" by Laurie Lovejoy Hilliard and Sharon Lovejoy Autry
This is a practical book subtitled "Finding contentment in real life". It's been a great book to read this summer, because I've struggled with the transition from working--even half time!--to staying at home all day with Ollie. It's helped me find practical ways to make the most of being a mom and has helped me deal with some frustrations that I'm sure most moms have with their kids. (Yesterday, for example, Ollie dumped the entire contents of our salt shaker on the floor.)
Not only does it deal with children--but jobs, husbands, and just real life--finding contentment with what you have. So, it's another good one to read. And it's a quick one, too!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lake Trip

This past weekend our small group spent a couple nights out at Marion Lake about 40 miles from here. We had such a fun time eating together, swimming, boating, skiing, tubing and spending lots of hours in front of the campfire making smores and talking. (Sorry some of these pictures are so small!)
Our campsite. Actually, we had two. Aaron and Ryan went down a day early and secured great spots for us--right along a little cove in the lake. We had easy access for swimming, boating and fishing.
The girls swimming Friday evening. It was so HOT that we had to cool off somehow.
Joel and I in front of the fire. That night we found two HUGE spiders so I was freaked out about putting my feet down. Yuck!!!
Our first night's meal: Hobo dinners over the stove. They were DELICIOUS!

The girls in the group: Me, Shannon, Amanda and Tina

We had a great time and talked about making it a tradition!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Eli and Ollie were born 4 days apart. They are good buddies. Eli can say "Ollie" but Ollie just says "I" for Eli. A couple weeks ago the boys played together at our house while Eli's parents were away. They played outside and loved it!

Swimming together


In the sandbox...after swimming...nice.

It's fun to have friends with another boy who is so close in age to Ollie. It's amazing how similar their development is--and how many firsts came really close together!

Gates: A Mom's Best Friend

So we decided to buy a gate to keep Ollie out of areas we don't want him to play in. This was DEVASTATING for him! One time we use it is when I (Kendall) am cooking supper. This summer, since we spend so much time together, he has just gotten really clingy. He has a hard time even letting me go to the bathroom by myself! So when we put the gate up, he cried. Hard. Here are some pictures...poor guy.

I will say that he hasn't responded like that each time--in fact, now he doesn't seem to even care! And for much of the day, I block off the pantry where he would prefer to spend most of his time rummaging for food. Can you blame him?