Friday, January 30, 2015

Did I Tell You About the Greatest Vacation EVER??

I haven't taken the time to put it down on paper, but I've been thinking about it ever since it happened. Long, long ago, all the way last year, we went on the greatest vacation ever. It started with the guessing game, the map, the road trip. It landed us at Mt. Olympus in the Dells. This is the kind of vacation that I've always looked forward to doing with our kids. The kind where we enjoy a waterpark and a thousand trips down the water slides. Where we negotiate about which roller coaster is next, and get more nervous the closer we get to the front of the line. Where the clock doesn't matter, there's no schedule and we just do the next fun thing that pops into sight. We raced go-carts, flew airplanes, ate at Sprecher's restaurant two nights in a row because we loved the food so much that we just HAD to go back for more.

On our  last day, we took a boat tour on the Wisconsin River. It was educational, beautiful, exciting all in one.

It was an awesome way to end our summer, and great memories to keep us warm through the frosty winter. Now, when can we start planning a return trip?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Facts About Owls

Males are a little smaller. 
At night owls pepels get bigger.
On most owls one ear is higher then the other.
~ Shelly 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Little Cooped Up

Last night we got the call, no school on Thursday because of expected temps at 30 below. There was noisy cheering from all of the students in the house. I came up with a simple plan and it mostly worked. I promised the three amigos that we'd make s'mores AND brownies. I may have lost my mind. Fill them up with sugar on a day when we can't get outside to burn off the energy? Well...

The lure of the treat and a few hours of TV kept things mostly civil among the natives, until I got my work done. Then we made some midnight brownies. And then the s'mores, marshmallows roasted over a flame and smushed between some crackers. Yummy!

Archer very kindly spent the next hour making a batch of marvelous chicken gnocchi soup. It was definitely better than I've ever made, and I'm not just saying that to make him feel good. It really was the best ever!

We've finally settled down for the night, enjoyed our brownies, and I'm hoping they fall asleep while watching the last movie of the day.

The only question I have now is, what am I going to do with them tomorrow, when they're off of school again?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


The super-cold has finally set in and the troops may be going slightly stir crazy. What do you think?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

First Run of the Year!

What a great way to start 2015! We held the first ever January One H. C. Fun Run, starting at Mamaw and Bampa's driveway. Distance is your choice, 40 feet or 4 miles. Shirts for all participants - yellow because that's our family color, and also because we could use some sunshine in the middle of the cold grey winter. I'd say it was a success, and I can't wait for our next fun run with this fun crowd!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Creamy Potato Soup

The Fortiers have, over the last few years, begun the tradition of "soup for Christmas" and we all enjoy sharing each other's recipes for this wonderful dish. My favorite one to make for this even is potato soup. This is one of the rare occasions where I allow the kids to lick their bowls (and I might do it too!)

Creamy Potato Soup


5 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced into 2 inch chunks
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
½ teaspoon black pepper (optional - don't use if you're sensitive to pepper!)
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken broth
2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese
Garnish (optional) - crumbled bacon, chopped green onion or chives, shredded cheese, sour cream


1. If using bacon for garnish... cook bacon
2. Peel and dice potatoes, put into large pot
3. Add onion and garlic, add seasonings
4. Pour in broth
5. Cover and cook on high until potatoes are tender

6. In batches, put soup into blender and blend until smooth. When 1 batch is done, pour into large bowl, then do another batch. Proceed until all soup has been blended.
7. In batches (again), put some of the soup into blender, add a few chunks of cream cheese, blend until smooth again. When smooth, pour back into large pot (that you used for cooking the soup). Continue until all cream cheese has been blended into the soup, and all soup is back in the original pot.

8. Cook on low/medium about 30 minutes, stirring frequently - soup easily burns and sticks to the bottom of the pan so be careful!


Why we love it

Creamy, warm deliciousness... what's not to love??

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

More Christmas Eve!

We decided to end our day with a trip to a light show at the local campground. And when we arrived home, surprise! 

Santa had come while we were away!

Favorites were a quad copter, puppy named Coconut, police officer uniform, and a few others. Parents' favorites were all the books, E's new BIG BOY bed and seeing all the excitement on the kids' faces. Thanks Santa!

Merry Christmas Eve

It's been a nice day of decorating cookies and singing carols, just relaxing all together, the best kind of day.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Big Ballet Debut

This past summer, after watching a movie, Shelly innocently commented that she wished she was a ballerina. When fall started getting close and we had our annual discussion about "what activity this year?", Shelly said she didn't want to do Awana again. She wanted to take dance lessons. We scouted out all the dance studios we could find and settled on one. The one farthest away from home, the one that you have to drive through shady neighborhoods, that's the one that caught our attention. That's where we joined. It didn't hurt that we spied Nutcracker costumes on our tour of the studio. It helped that we got to see some ballerinas in action during a class they were taking.

Anyway, we've been travelling down to the studio once a week for Shelly's ballet lessons and she seems to really enjoy it. Not long after the school year started, the notice came out - all those interested in participating in the Nutcracker production should complete a form and mark their calendars... And away we go!

Then, instead of just classes on Wednesdays, we also had rehearsals on Sundays. Once it got closer to the big weekend, there were MORE rehearsals and planning and discussions of hair and makeup and what color tights, what color shoes, what time to show up, where are we supposed to go? Do we have enough bobby pins, hair nets, hair spray, snacks?

The big day finally arrived, after countless hours of rehearsal we got to settle in and truly enjoy the show. What an incredible performance by ALL of the dancers. Shelly was an angel and performed her role perfectly.

We were treated to multiple showings, Shelly performed five times in four days (including the full-length rehearsals). By the end of the weekend we were thrilled at the opportunity we'd had, and also completely exhausted and thankful for the holiday break from ballet, two whole weeks off before we start up again next year!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Birthdays Galore

For the first time ever I baked my husband a cake on his birthday. Yes, last year I tried, messed it up despite the fact that it was JUST A MIX IN A BOX, and he ended up baking it himself. (Sorry Honey!) This year I made a Boston Cream Pie cake and it doesn't look so pretty but it did taste pretty good, and after 11 years of marriage I can finally say that I did it once - baked him a cake. Thank you for your everlasting patience, David, and Happy Birthday to the most wonderful husband and father I could ever imagine!

Just a short two weeks later, E celebrated his FOURTH birthday!! What!! No longer baby, toddler, preschooler, now this grown up kid is in school, learning everything and telling us all he already knows. This beautiful boy is so precious, with his huge smile that lights up his face, and lights up everyone else around him. He was very specific about the cake he wanted, but the most important element was the "pintles." It MUST have sprinkles or it just wouldn't be good enough. David baked and decorated that one, my skills are clearly not up to par to deliver on Eli's high demands.

Happy birthday to you both!