The cooking started here the day before Thanksgiving. All the girls helped but Annabelle eagerly helped most of the day. It was a true delight! Here Annabelle is making cranberry sauce, Claire is helping with the sweet potatoes and Katherine is getting ready to help with something else.

Happy Thanksgiving? We all worked hard to prepare our dinner.

We mentioned many times how much we wished our family was with us. We can't wait for Christmas with family!


Forest Preserve

Weekend requirements of late:

1. Free
2. Fun
3. Outdoor
4. Does not induce complaining
5. Is not completely exhausting
6. Close

We can never meet all our requirements but 5 out of 6 is pretty good. Complaining seems to follow us wherever we go. But, we didn't pay much attention this time and it was quickly overcome as we observed beauty all around us.

Fall Beauty just 10 minutes from our house. Gotta love Cook County Forest Preserves.

Katherine tolerates Mommy time while actually dreaming of being with Daddy. She is often like a third leg for him. :)

We both enjoyed experiencing nature with our kiddos.

Aren't they adorable? Anna was dressed for adventure!

I would give my life for any one of these girls. Love them!


Halloween forethought

As a grownup I hardly even notice that Halloween is at the end of this month. I remember about mid-October that I have some cute fall decorations that I'd like to put up. I don't plan to buy tombstones and spiders and other creepy items.

Having kids means that they start planning for Halloween on Nov 1st of the previous year. As soon as possible they begin to plan for the next year. Some kids more than others.

Annabelle decided at some point that she wanted to be a vampire. We've never encouraged her to be anything scary. We have seen some seriously disturbing costumes in the last few years and I didn't want any of our kids to get into that. But, she promises not to be too scary (she doesn't want to scare herself) and we don't want to make a big deal out of it.

Claire and I were at the thrift store this weekend and she found some very awesome, authentic and just her size cowboy boots. She decided then and there to be a cowgirl for halloween. We quickly found a hat and I just ordered her a trick lasso to complete her outfit. It will be adorable and so uniquely Claire.

Katherine is following suit for her sisters at this age. Princess. Again. She was a cow at 2 (we had a cute costume) and then a princess last year. I think Claire was a princess or fairy every year until this year actually. So, we are in it for the long haul. Princess and Fairy costumes are in abundance here. Send all your girls who love dress up to our house!

Happy Halloween Everyone.


Lovely St. Louis

We recently had a rare family vacation to St. Louis. Matt was attending a conference and so the girls and I saw the sights of the city. We had a great time at St. Louis Zoo and the Arch and the Riverboat cruise.

Anna loved petting the stingrays. I tried it once and didn't want to do it again.

On the cruise...

We also went to City Museum, which is the coolest museum in the world. We only heard of it because of Matt's sister. Many years ago we took the girls there (so long they had no memory of it) and had a lot of fun. This time the girls were older and braver and the place was almost completely empty. It was amazing and definitely not a good place to get any pictures. I worried about crushing my camera while Matt and I played too!


apple picking means apple pie!

So this year I faced my apples (we had 2 pecks) with eagerness and determination. I was not going to waste any apples on a bad pie filling recipe like last year. I contacted a friend who is super amazing - 9 kids, homeschools, jars anything and everything in large quantities, only spends $150/week feeding her large family and is a fount of wisdom and honesty. I asked her for her pie filling recipe - the one she makes 5,000 times the recipe and freezes it for pies all year long. Okay - maybe not 5,000 but she does make a LOT.

The process was fun since Daddy was in charge of the messy parts. I do not enjoy cooking with kids. There I said it. And I have met other Moms who feel the same way, so it's okay for me to feel that way. I do enjoy helping them pick out clothes, braiding their hair, working on puzzles, coloring, and doing other things with them. Just not things that involve sticky, messy or ovens.

Total: 4 pies. We ate one that night and froze the filling for the other three. Yum!

Apple Picking!

The time came recently for our annual trip to the Apple Orchard. This year it was hot and we didn't last as long as we have before. But we enjoyed picking Gala and McIntosh apples.


Another one rides the bike...

Yesterday was the day for Claire. She was so excited! Katherine's new bike has been a good motivation for the other girls to get back on their bikes finally.

We do miss having sidewalks but are enjoying the fairly quiet, wide street to ride on. Much easier than our busy, car filled previous road.


What the littles are doing

First morning on their own. A. is terrified of the cats and spends most of his time making sure they are no where near him. Katherine is enjoying being the boss of A. and teaching him how to wear heels.

They are so cute together.

First Day of School!

Hurray! The girls started school today.

They are beautiful, excited and anxious. I am thrilled with how much more confident Claire is this year and how Annabelle is so beautiful and put together (she already has an abundance of confidence!).

Katherine was up just in time to say goodbye!


Birthday gifts

Katherine really wanted to open her presents in the jumpolene. Very cute.

Katherine's Birthday(s)

Katherine had many birthday celebrations! We started with a small party with our close friends, then some presents (and donuts) on her birthday morning, cupcakes with my Uncle and family and then a party a few days later for her and her friends. It was nice to spread the gifts out and she had a wonderful time!

Matt's mom gave us this very cool candelabra candle holder. I'm sure it'll be used for years to come.


Welcome Guests

At last we were able to host some of our beloved family! We now have a guest room so we can really have some visitors! And they don't have to sleep on our couch or floor.

This time Matt's Mom & Stepdad came plus we were so thankful that his not-yet 90 Grandmother joined them! It'll tell you something about her to know that they drove out here and shopped there way here and back. She has amazing energy, several times she was still standing while I was totally wiped out.

We enjoyed Ravinia, Central St. shopping, sightseeing, barbecuing and the Botanic Gardens. It was a short visit but we sure fit a lot in!

Claire enjoyed that Grandpa likes to stay home too!

They stopped and shopped for a few days on their way. Loved the huge chair!

Botanic Gardens


It was really really cold that night. The middle of July and in the low 70's with a pretty strong breeze. We were all a bit chilly.