Friday, June 21, 2013


Olivia played t-ball this summer.  Her team was the Tigers.  Last night was her last game since we will be out of town next week for the last game of the season.  I was able to be one of her coaches.  It was a lot of fun.  She was able to be on a team with some of her friends from school and she had so much fun being able to see them each week for games!  A lot of her other friends and classmates were on the other teams so she got to see them too on game nights.  These t-ball games were quite the event!  I couldn't believe how many people came to the games!  It was so fun to see the whole community (actually several communities) show up and watch these little kids play! 

Maddi was able to get some pictures last night of Olivia playing.  They were taken with my phone so they are not the best but here they are:
Hitting the ball

Waiting on 3rd

Running home

Playing catcher

I love being here and being able to be involved with the kids.  I got to be the first base coach for the games and I loved standing there giving all the kids high fives after they hit the ball and made it to base!  One would always give me repeats of what happened while he was batting.  One would give me five and then show me how bouncy the bases were.  One would tell me all about her week while we waited for the next batter to hit the ball.  They were all having so much fun! 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Fun at the Farm

Today was a beautiful day so after we finished chores we headed out the farm.  Michael got out Okie and all the kids took turns riding her.
Dillon rode her the longest and had to be forced off.  I think he could spend all day every day at the barn and never get tired of it.  He even got brave enough to trot!
Olivia trotted too but not without squealing the whole time.  She also practiced her Princess wave when Okie wasn't moving so fast :)

Zeke waited ever so patiently for his turn and was able to ride Okie for the first time without Michael walking along beside him!  He was quite proud of himself.  Zane rode too but some how I didn't get a picture of him.  The big surprise of the day though?  Maddi rode the horse too!
 She had to have a little pep talk and be bribed with a bag of Milky Ways but she did it!  I guess I'd better put that on my grocery list!

Then after every one had their turn, she got on again!  She hasn't ridden a horse since she was really little and fell off.  I guess it scared her enough that she refused to get on ever since.  Today she finally broke free from it all and rode!  She rode slow but she did it and when she finished the second time she even had a little smile on her face :)
While the others were riding Dillon was in the barn practicing his roping... on Zane...

He did pretty good too!  Got him several times.  I wish I would have had my real camera out there and not just my phone.  Then I could have gotten some better pictures!
Olivia was in the other part of the barn checking on the kittens.  She gets to take one of them home in a few weeks and is very excited!  When she wasn't riding Okie she was petting the kittens.

This is her favorite one and she has named it Princess.  We will bring it home after we get back from our trip.  She was hoping we could get it before we left so we could bring her with us :)  I said that wouldn't be the best of ideas!  She accepted that as long as we could go out every couple of days and see her. 

We had a fun day!  The only thing missing from our day was having the Olsens home (after all it is their barn and it is way more fun when we have friends to play with and talk to)!  That just means we'll have to go out another time when they are home!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Flowerbed Garden

This year we were not able to get a regular garden planted but the kids were really wanting to plant some things.  So after we dug all the rocks out of the two beds in front of our house we decided to plant a few things there. 

We headed to the store to decided what we wanted.  They all wanted zucchini so I could make zucchini bread this fall so that was picked first.  Then we got some peas because Michael really likes peas fresh from the garden.  Maddi had some pumpkin seeds at home and then we decided on cucumbers.  We also got a tomato plant and a jalapeno pepper plant so Michael could make salsa :)  Dillon really wanted corn but I didn't think that would work right in front of the house.  We'll have to figure out a spot for that next year!

We really didn't get that much planted because we didn't have that much room.  It's just kind of a token garden.  The kids helped plant and they will get to watch it grow.  They got rocks and labeled them with the vegetables and put them in the garden so we knew what was where.  The peas and zucchini were planted a few weeks ago and they have already started growing.

Olivia and I finally planted the cucumbers and pumpkins tonight.  We'll see if they grow.

As I said, it is a token garden for the kids to be able to take care of and watch grow and hopefully taste when it is all done growing!  Don't judge my dry, hard, cracking dirt!  My kids are excited after 2 years of no garden to finally be able to grow something again, even if it isn't the corn that they love!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Step by Step Fried Pies

Ok, I have had a lot of inquiries about how to make fried pies.  I know I have posted my recipe on here before, but I am going to do it again and this time with pictures and step by step instructions. Here goes...

Today I made Strawberry Rhubarb Fried Pies.  I started with 3 cups of chopped rhubarb and 2 cups of sliced strawberries.  You can use fresh or frozen.  I put them in a pot and brought them to a simmer until they softened and got mushy.  I added some sugar until I got them to the sweetness/tartness that I liked.  It usually takes anywhere from 1/4c. to 1/2c.

If the mixture seems really runny you can thicken it with corn starch or flour.  While that is cooling I made the dough.  The dough is really quite easy.

1 c. butter flavored shortening, chilled
1 tsp. salt
1 c. flour
1 egg

Put flour and salt into a bowl and cut in shortening until it becomes a crumb like consistency.  Put and egg in a 3/4c. measuring cup and beat slightly.  Fill the measuring cup up the rest of the way with cold water and add to flour mixture.  Mix with fork or hand until it all comes together and forms a nice soft dough.  Should not be sticky.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

After it has chilled, it is time to start!  Here's what you need: dough, filling, wax paper, rolling pin, a little flour in a bowl and a little water in another bowl and a fork.

Get two pieces of wax paper.  Get a small amount of dough and make a ball.  Put it between the two pieces of wax paper.
Roll it out.  You want it thin but not super thin.  If it gets too thin then it will tear when you are trying to make the pies. It doesn't have to make a perfect circle.
Put a tablespoon or so of filling in the middle of the circle.  You don't want to put too much otherwise it will leak out when you are folding and cooking the pies.  Then you end up with a big mess!
Stick your finger in the bowl of water and slightly wet the outside edge of the dough.  Then fold the dough over to make a half circle.  Once you have done that, fold the edges up just a little.
Folding the edges like this helps it not to pop open when it is cooking.  Once you have done this, stick the fork in the flour and crimp all the way around the folded edge.
This makes it look pretty and also helps keep it together during the cooking process.  I do 12 at a time.  I have discovered over the years that if I do too many at once then the oil gets too hot, they burn, etc... So I fill up a cookie sheet and then I fry those before I make the next 12.  In between batches of 12 I take the grease off the burner and let it cool while making the next 12. 
Put a lot of oil in a big pan.  It needs to be at least and inch deep.  I prefer pans that have a higher side so oil doesn't spill out when I am turning the pies.  Turn your burner on medium high - high and let the oil heat to 375 degrees. 
If you  don't have a thermometer (like me - mine broke) then use a little pinch of dough to determine when it is hot enough to cook.  You want the grease to be hot enough to immediately start cooking the pies so they don't get grease logged.  It only takes a few minutes to cook them.

Either before you start cooking or quickly while the pies are cooking, get a big platter.  Put one layer of paper towels on the bottom.  Then get some more and crumple them up.  The crumpled paper towels help absorb more of the grease.
When the pies are golden brown on both sides take them out and place them on the paper towels.  As I said before, the cooking process only takes a few minutes.  I only put four in the pan at a time so it doesn't get over crowded.  They seem to cook better that way.
Just keep layering the paper towels and pies until you have finished.  Put a paper towel over the top when you are done.  When you store them, do not close them up.  I store them just like this on the platter with the paper towels and then just put a dish towel over the top.  If they get put in an airtight container the crust will get soggy.
I make lots of different kinds: any kind of pie filling will work - my favorite is lemon. I have tried pudding.  Those are best when they are cooled off again and you have to eat them the same day otherwise the pudding makes the crusts soggy.  I also make an apricot fried pie.  I use dried apricots for that - soak them over night in water (just barely cover fruit).  Then simmer for 30 minutes mashing up the fruit.  Add sugar to taste, a tsp or so of lemon juice and nutmeg if desired.  I have a friend that has put breakfast stuff in them - eggs, sausage, etc (precooked of course).  I have also put a slice of cream cheese in the middle and then sprinkled sugar over the crust of the pie once fried.  Eat those warm!
You can bake these if you want a healthier version but they do not compare to the fried version (in my opinion).  Just put them on the pan and bake at 350 or so until golden brown.  I think the breakfast version would be good baked, the others I prefer fried.
So, that is my step by step process for making these!  Hope you all enjoy a fried pie or two!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Hauling Rock

Today the sun finally decided to come out.  It was such a beautiful day that I couldn't bear to spend it inside, especially since rain is in the forecast for tomorrow.  So we decided to haul rock!  After I finished mowing the yard I talked the kids into helping me redo our fire pit area.  This is what it looked like when we started...
Dillon and Maddi ran to the store to get plastic bags and Olivia and I started removing the rock around the fire pit ring.
When Maddi and Dillon got back we started putting down the plastic around the ring and putting the rocks back on.  Then we rolled 2 huge rocks from the edge of our yard to the fire pit.  They were heavy!  I would lift up one side and then Dillon and Maddi would help push it up and we would roll it over.  Then we would do it again.  It took awhile but we got it done.  Then we started hauling in the little rocks.
Once we got a few in there we had to measure to get the ring around the fire pit somewhat even.  I found a pole with a string tied to it.  Dillon stood in the fire pit with the pole in the center and we used it as a compass.  I pulled the string out and we would put a bigger rock down.  Then we would rotate it a little and put another rock down.  We went all the way around the fire pit so we had a nice circle to fill in.
We spent the rest of the afternoon filling in the rock.  We would fill up our bucket, carry it accross the yard, dump it out and do it again!  It took several hours to get it all done.  Maddi worked until she went to a friend's house.  Olivia helped out for most of the time.  Zeke was gone.  Zane was playing with a friend.  Dillon stuck with me the whole time. 
This is the finished product! I tried to put the bench in that the kids had made last week but they kept moving it around so it didn't work for very long.  We will have to figure something else out with that later.   When we got done we went inside to see what had happened to Olivia (she disappeared towards the end of things) and this is what we found...
Poor little girl had come in and passed out right at the front door she was so tired!  She worked hard today!  After supper we had a fire and made s'mores and enjoyed our newly remodeled fire pit area.  That was the best part of all!


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Responsibility to Teach

While I am extremely tired, sleep is far from me.  Tonight I am overwhelmed with the responsibility of motherhood.  As a mother, there is so much to do.  Not only do we take care of things at home like cooking, cleaning, chores, feeding, bathing and everything else in between we are also responsible for teaching, leading, guiding and preparing.

I have mentioned before on this blog that I am not a patient person.  I lose patience with myself, my husband, our kids and even our dog.  I lose my temper.  I'm sure I have even thrown a tantrum or two :)  My kids probably wonder what they ever did to God to deserve to get put with me for this sojourn here on earth.  I have wondered that too sometimes - what ever it was, it must have been a doozy!

Seriously though, I do my best.  I am far from perfect.  I live for the quote that says children will be given strengths for their parents weaknesses.  I hope that is true and if it is my children will be some of the strongest people in the world!

When we see our children do something they shouldn't or fall short of our expectations for them we start to wonder what we are doing wrong.  That is where I am tonight.  I look back and think, what could I have done differently.  If I would have said this or done that would things be different?  Did I yell too much or come down too hard or let things go that should have been addressed?  Did I teach with love or did anger rule my teaching?  Did they feel that they could come to me or had I made myself unavailable to them?  Should I have hugged more, complimented more, smiled more or stopped to listen more?

I know all this questioning doesn't fix or change anything, but as a mother I feel this huge responsibility to help my children be successful in all areas of life and when I see them start to struggle I immediately wonder where I fell short.  It hurts to watch them struggle.  It hurts to watch them fail.  It hurts to see them pull away.  It hurts to see them hurt and not know exactly how to help them.  I know their struggles make them stronger and their failures can help them achieve more success.  I know sometimes pulling away brings the realization that they were stronger than they thought or that they need their family more than they thought.  But it still hurts.

It is during those times that I hope I have not failed in my teaching.  It is times like those that I hope my weaknesses have not made them weak.  It is those times that I hope they can remember the things I have said and done and that they will know where to turn for peace and change.  I have taught them to pray.  I have taught them to read their scriptures.  I have taught them repentance and seeking for forgiveness with humility.  I have taught them to treat others with respect and kindness.  I have taught them to serve.  I have taught them to be honest and work hard.  I have taught them to follow the example of the Savior.  I have taught them that they are of royal birth, children of God.  I have taught them that He loves each and everyone of them and that I love each and every one of them. 

I hope as they go through life, they remember and are able to draw on those teachings and find strength to rise above and continue on, to take the high road and become better.  And should they ever find themselves wandering and lost, that they remember the love that I have for them and that God has for them and allow that love to bring them back to a place of peace and joy. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Uummm, Mom? I Kind of Kicked a Tree...

Around 4:30 this afternoon I was getting ready to call the boys in to get ready for baseball.  Olivia comes walking in the front door looking kind of concerned.  I asked how she was.  She said, "Good.  Except, uummmm Mom? I kind of kicked a tree and my toe hurts."  She came limping over and I looked at her toe.  This is what I saw:
At first I couldn't tell if it was dirt or what stuck in there so we washed it and I decided it was bark.  She wouldn't let me touch it and I knew it needed to come out so I had to call the clinic.  They had us come over.  While we were waiting I took this picture:
The bark was pushed all the way inside the toe so there was nothing sticking out to grab onto to pull it out.  The doctor let Olivia decide how she wanted to do it.  He could either use a little tool to hold her toe still and just pull the bark out or she could get 2 shots in her toe that would sting at first but then it wouldn't hurt when he pulled.  She decided to go with the shots.  We took her down to the hospital (it's connected to the clinic) and they got everything ready.  I felt bad because I wasn't able to hold her hand or anything while they were doing it all and I could tell she was scared.  She didn't cry until they gave her the shots.  Then she cried really hard.  They let it sit for a minute and then pulled it out.  She watched them do the whole thing while she squeezed the nurse's hand.  He said she made a good choice getting it numbed because the bark was kind of wet and it took him three tugs to get it out.  This is the chunk he pulled out:

That is a pretty big chunk for such a little toe!  They let her put it in a container and take it home so she could show everyone!  They said for the rest of the day she needed to elevate it and ice it.  They also said to keep her on Tylenol for the next day or so.  We have to soak it twice a day for the next few days because it is just an open wound right now and they don't want it to get infected. 
We have to keep it bandaged to help keep it clean and she can't play in the dirt is she has sandals on and she can't get it wet for a while either while she is playing. 

She was a brave little girl today and got a sucker and two stickers out of the deal!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

All Smiles!

Today was a big day for Makenna.  The kids and I took her to Sioux Falls to meet up with her best friend from Wyoming.  She is going home with them for a few weeks to spend time together and do a summer theater program that the college in Rock Springs puts on.  She was so excited to go.  This has been in the works for a month or so.  She has been wanting to pack for weeks.  I finally let her pack her bag last Thursday.  She had it done in five minutes and has been ready to go ever since!

We met her ride at the Flying J right off the interstate.  As soon as Kenna saw their car she was ready to jump out the window and run to see Laura.  The gave huge hugs when they finally both got out of the cars and the smiles were going from ear to ear!  Laura had not been feeling well,  but she still had a great big smile :)
She gave me a hug, said good bye and off she went!  She called me this evening when she got to the hotel and even though I couldn't see her I could tell she was still smiling by the sound of her voice!  Laura's mom sent me this picture:
They stopped at Wall Drug for a break and they have the exact same smiles they had when they left.  I am so glad she gets to go on this adventure.  It will be different around here for a few weeks and when I go places with the kids and count heads to make sure I still have them all with me I will be all messed up, but I am glad she is there having fun.  We will follow in a few weeks and then we will have to deal with good byes but for now I am so happy they are together and can't wait to hear all about their adventures!


Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Beautiful Sunday

Today was such a beautiful day.  We went to church this morning with the sun already shining.  When we got home the sun was still shining.  That may not sound to exciting but for us that is huge!  We have not had many sunshiney days over the last few weeks and it is forecasted for the sun to go away again in the next day or so.  So to have the sun still out after a few hours was very exciting!!

After church Michael and I took the dog for a walk while the kids played.  Then we sat out in the yard enjoying the beautiful weather.

Maddi and Dillon decided they wanted to build a bench so with the help of Michael they got one put together to have at the fire pit.  Olivia thought it was fun to play with the drill and wanted her picture taken with it...

For supper we roasted hot dogs over the fire with our fishing pole roasters.  We got them for Christmas from some friends and this was our first time using them.  The kids loved them!

After supper some kids from the neighborhood came over and played kickball out in the field by our house.  Michael and I also had some friends stop over that were just driving by and saw us out by the fire.  We visited for a while and then all the kids came over and we roasted marshmallows.
I think I could spend every evening out by the fire in the quiet of our yard. 
I am glad we had such a beautiful day to spend together.  Makenna is leaving on Tuesday and will be gone until we go to Wyoming at the end of the month to get her.  It was nice to be able to have a day like this to enjoy each others company before she leaves.