Happy Birthday Ben!

You were my first baby. The baby that I cried for, prayed for, begged for. You are growing into a wonderful little man who loves God and the people around you. I’m blessed to be your mom.

Falling Asleep

My boys typically fall asleep with books in their hands. (Or books laying on their faces as my oldest guy just pointed out.) Anyway, back to my story…most nights I have to go into their rooms and put away the book and turn off the light. This is what greeted me one recent night.

toy gun, book

I love little boys.

(Yes, I know the picture is blurry. I thought something was wrong with my camera and that I would get to have to get a new camera. Turns out that the boys got the lens dirty the day they took some pictures with my camera. A little lens cleaning did the trick. Darn.)

What Happens When Kids Get A Hold of the Camera

When kids get a hold of the camera, you usually get pictures like this
mess

and this.
Dixon

Or this series I call People Walking Away.
img_3668.jpg
img_3675.jpg
img_4783.jpg

And check out these portraits–
img_4813.jpg
img_4742.jpg
img_4835.jpg


Sometimes
, though, you get some gems like
Playmobil, pirate, toys, pirate ship
tree, sky
Sometimes you even get a good profile picture out of it.
profile

And sometimes you get a true treasure like this.
toys, toy car

We ♥ Moe’s

Do you have a Moe’s Southwest Grill nearby?

Moe’s, kid’s night

Because if you do, you need to get over there and eat some tasty grub.

Moe’s, kid’s night

Pronto.

Moe’s, kid’s night

Moe’s is yummy, but one of the reasons it’s such a hit in our family is

Moe’s, kid’s night

Kid’s Night. Kids eat free on Tuesday nights at our local establishment.

And it’s not just the free food that draws us there, either. They always have something fun for the kids like

Moe’s, face painting
face painting,

Moe’s, kid’s night

or a balloon artist.

Moe’s, kid’s night
Dad loves Moe’s kids night, (even though he may not look like it.)

The Best Trail Mix Ever

trail mix, cheez its, cashews, M&Ms, peanut butter chips, craisins, cheerios

I have three boys and they are always hungry. One of the biggest problems I face in my homeschool is food. This is how my day used to go…get up fix breakfast, eat breakfast, clean up breakfast, do a little school, fix snack, eat snack, clean up after snack, do a little more school, fix lunch, eat lunch, clean up after lunch. Well, you get the picture. I decided enough is enough, so since I can’t stop feeding them breakfast and lunch I decided that one thing I could do was tame the snack monster.

Now I’m not one of these people who believes kids shouldn’t have snacks. I think a healthy, well timed snack can help them do better with their school work and keep the grumpies away. The big question always is, what do I feed them for snack and how do I make it simple for me? The answer? Trail Mix. And not just any trail mix, you need to make The Best Trail Mix Ever.

Now snack time is so easy. I cut up an apple or two and give them a small portion of trail mix and they are good to go. Try it! Your kids (and you) will love it.

Ingredients
4 cups Honey-Nut Cheerios
4 cups Cheez Its
4 cups window pane pretzals (also known as snaps), broken into pieces*
2 cups cashews
2 cups M&Ms
2 cups peanut butter chips
2 cups craisins

Directions
Mix it all together in a very large pot and store in sealed containers.

trail mix, cheez its, cashews, M&Ms, peanut butter chips, craisins, cheerios
*Here’s the type of pretzals you need
trail mix, cheez its, cashews, M&Ms, peanut butter chips, craisins, cheerios

And this is about the size you need them to be. Just pinch them between your thumb and finger and they will snap into 2-4 pieces. If you don’t do this, the pretzals won’t mix well with everything else.

trail mix, cheez its, cashews, M&Ms, peanut butter chips, craisins, cheerios

I store mine in Tupperware cereal containers, but of course any sealed container works well.

This recipe is so simple and there are many variations to help keep it fresh and new each time you make it. There are tons of different types of Cheerios, Cheez-its, pretzals, nuts, craisins, and small candies you can try. The kids watched ET for the first time a couple of weeks ago and were begging to try Reese’s Pieces. So the next time I made the trail mix, I traded the peanut butter chips and M&Ms for Reese’s Pieces and chocolate chips. You could do plain or apple cinnamon Cheerios, white cheddar or spicy Cheez-its, there are even different flavored craisins. You could use Ritz Bits peanut butter crackers in place of the pretzals and peanut butter chips.

I’d love to hear if you make this! Enjoy!

Bridal Veil Falls

This past weekend we went to an amazing waterfall. Wait a minute, you’ve probably already seen it. Does this look familiar?

Last of the Mohicans Waterfall

So, do you recognize it? It’s the waterfall from the scene in The Last of the Mohicans where Hawkeye tells Cora to “Stay alive, no matter what occurs, I will find you!”

I actually had the pleasure of seeing this waterfall many years ago when it was still on private property and inaccessible (and unknown) to most here in our mountains. My friend Dave worked at Dupont and therefore had privileges to use the site for recreation. We drove right up to the river and Dave put on his waders and carried me and two other girls across the river. We then walked up the rock face and climbed back behind the falls.

Two years later The Last of the Mohicans was released and I had no idea that it was the waterfall I had been to earlier. See, Dupont was so private and hush, hush about their waterfalls, that they forbid the movie people to release the exact location of the falls. The area was bought by the state (following much legal wrangling) several years ago and the area became Dupont State Forest. This land accquisiton opened up this waterfall and several others to the public.

Of course you can’t just drive up to the falls now–you have to hike for almost 3 miles (with your three kids in tow.)

Bridal Veil Falls hike Dupont State Forest
My two littlest hikers

We put a snack, jacket, and hat in their packs for them. We hike prepared. It’s always funny to pass people on the trail who don’t even have a water bottle and we’re loaded up like we’re on a three day hike. However, there’s no such thing as too much food or water or too many warm clothes when you’re hiking with three little ones! I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been so thankful for these extra things.

Bridal Veil Falls hike Dupont State Forest
Bridal Veil Falls hike Dupont State Forest

This is just the very top part of the falls. We walked up the rock face and then veered into the woods to get to the top.

Bridal Veil Falls hike Dupont State Forest

Climbing under the rock ledge. (Maybe I’ll get Photoshop one day and take that branch off of his face. And I can’t figure out why this picture is so much smaller than the others.)

Bridal Veil Falls hike Dupont State Forest

Bridal Veil Falls hike Dupont State Forest

Bridal Veil Falls hike Dupont State Forest
Bridal Veil Falls hike Dupont State Forest
Bridal Veil Falls hike Dupont State Forest
Bridal Veil Falls hike Dupont State Forest
Bridal Veil Falls hike Dupont State Forest
Bridal Veil Falls hike Dupont State Forest
“Why is this picture in black and white?” you ask? It’s very simple. My son is wearing a red and gray hat, orange and navy blue vest, and a black shirt. Not a lovely color combination if you ask me. We are known for our “function before fashion” motto on the trail!

Hiking five miles in the cold really works up an appetite, so we ended our afternoon out with dinner at a local BBQ place where we proceeded to eat everything in sight. I don’t think the boys left one single scrap of food on the table! We’re going to have to start patronizing those all-you-can-stuff-into-your-face places before long.

Say What?

Scene–Breakfast table the morning after I cut eight inches off my hair.

Me:  Ms. Lisa said she likes my new haircut.

7yob:  Does Daddy like your hair?

Me:  Daddy likes it, but he really likes my hair long.

7yob: I really like to fart.