Sunday, August 30, 2009

Can't get enough of the Zoo!

It is a great thing that we have a season pass because the kids LOVE the Zoo and like to go as often as possible. Matt stayed home with the boys this time so that we could have a Mommy-Daughter Day! It was fun!

Here are my Monkeys checkin out the Monkeys!
There were a lot of Amish people visiting the Zoo that day too. They are such kind and wonderful people. We see them around Plymouth every now and then and the kids always get excited to see their buggies driving down the road. Cy always yells out the window "Hey horse!"
Anyway, they were at the zoo today and when we walked in the gates there was a large group right in front of us, probably 50 people or so and Taite became overjoyed with excitement! She yells out "Oh! Oh! Somebody invited the AMISH!!!" She was completely sincere in her exhilaration, but I wasn't sure that our Amish friends would take it that way so I tried to hush her.

Then Bailey looked confused, "Wait, I didn't see any buggies in the parking lot?!"

Ellery said, "Um...we're at the Zoo, I am SURE that they park with the other horses!"

These Amish people kept throwing the monkeys taffy. I don't know if that is good for the monkeys, but it was pretty funny to see the monkeys get a little hyper just opening the candy.
The Amish ladies right next to us were speaking in German (well, similar ) of course and I said to the girls, "Hey, they are speaking in German just like Oma."

Taite got all excited and said "Oh I must sing "In Den Hoen Baumen" to them!" ("In the Leafy Treetops" that my Mom taught her in German) I tried to dissuade her, but she eagerly replied "I know they want to hear it!"

The horses were a big hit!

Usually a worker walked next to the horse around this pathway, but they let Taite go all by herself. I was a little nervous that she was going to be afraid or unsure, but she did great! She was very comfortable. Her horse stopped a couple of times and you could hear her coaxing him along...come on horsey! I was proud of her!

Bailey was SO excited about the horses, she LOVES horses. I couldn't tell what made her more excited though, the ponies or the fact that they had one named Sadie...which of COURSE she picked because she loves Sadie so much. She was adamant that she wanted Sadie to ride even though she was a little big for her. That made her whole day!

Again with the Amish, sorry! Ellery was very interested in why this Amish family was watching the horses so closely. I didn't understand what she meant, but I caught her drift after a minute. I mean, they DO spend a lot of time around horses already!?! Very perceptive Elle.

The train ride is always a big hit! These two are SO AdOrAbLe!

I kept catching these two little guys turning around and
looking at Ellery over and over again!

I took this in the pitch black tunnel when they weren't expecting it!

The Peacocks roam free around the Zoo and
Bailey tried so hard to pet one.
I was going to tell her not to, but he was much too speedy anyway!
Bailey thought standing so close to this monster was awesome. He would just float there, perfectly still. She even said at one point that she thought he was dead or a fake. I assured her he was real. Just as I did, he moved his big ugly eye and blinked real fast. This caught her off guard, then he made this big lunge toward her....scared her to death.
As we walked away she said, "Well, he's definitely real!"

Great Day!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Feeling Pinch

I don't know if anyone else is feeling the pinch in their wallets like we are. It seems like absolutely everything on my grocery list has gone up and up and up lately. Even if its only pennies, it adds up!

I always get questions about our relatively small budget for our family of 7. My weekly "Food" budget of $100-$125 (MAX!) includes all household items and clothes too. With diapers for 2 formula for 1 taking up about $130 a month.... and then Matt & Cy to feed (ha ha ha!) anything that helps me stay under my non-negotiable budget is welcomed. I'll tell you, it has been getting harder and harder to stay under the mark. I am big on planning my shopping, so lately I have been trying to find ways cut as many costs as possible. I thought I would share one thing that has been helping.

Our Stake boundaries have been hit very hard by the economy. Elkhart county, not too far from us, I am pretty sure I heard right that it is the hardest hit county in the country. President Obama visited there very first to sell his economic plan (we won't get into my opinions on THIS right now!) But you get the idea, times are hard around here. With much discussion going on about Provident Living, a wonderful sister in our branch, Sister Bobelenyi shared something that has helped our household a lot.

Laundry! I do about 10-15 loads of laundry a week, sometimes more. Ever thought what that costs per load. Tide is about 19 cents per load and most other competitors are around 15-18 cents per load. This recipe for homemade laundry soap costs about 1.5 cent per load! I just did about 6 weeks worth of laundry for about $1!

Some may think this is corny or a little too old school, but I LOVE it and I am grateful for the help!

Here is what you need. One batch will make 2 of those 1-Gallon containers.

1/3 bar of Fels Naptha
1/2 c washing soda
1/2 c borax
Bucket that holds at least 2 gallons
pouring containers of choice (mine are just 2 1-gallon pitchers, Walmart clearance for $1)
Saucepan for soap only (you don't want to make your cooking pans filmy, I bought mine at Goodwill for $2)

Grate soap (as finely as possible, it will take much less time to melt this way) into a saucepan. Add 6 cups of water and heat it until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and borax, stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat. Pour 4 cups of Hot water into bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. Let sit for a minute to make sure it is mixed well, if not mix some more. Then pour into your gallon containers. Let sit for about 24 hours allowing it to gel. After 24 hours stir until all the gel breaks up, it will be the consistency of egg soup.

The soap is very low suds-ing so don't worry that you don't see suds. I am big on "pre-treating" tough stains so I hope you get as good results as me if you don't pre-treat!
Use 1/2c measuring cup per large load. less for smaller loads.
Makes about 64 large loads. I got more out of one batch than that because not all of my loads require a full 1/2 c.

I think it does a great job! Out test load was Matt's "planting" clothes and it got them sparkling clean with no pre-treating! Hope it helps your pockets!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

One Year

We have officially been Hoosiers for one year! I can't believe how fast it has gone by in some ways, how slowly in others. Let's see, one year ago was....well, only one way to say it, it was HELL! Matt moved out 8 weeks before us leaving me with the 4 kids, pregnant, awful pinched nerve, early contractions, spotting, packing a house, cleaning a house...ahhhh thank heavens that all ended! Then we made the big move and it has been an interesting year.

Of course the highlight was having Gus! That will always be the first thing I think about during this time period is adding that little angel to our lives! He is my little man and oh how I love him. He is our true Hoosier!

Moving here to Indiana has been a very big learning experience. First and foremost is being able to be by Matt's family, I think they are so amazing. I LOVE them! It has been so fun to be at all the family things we used to miss out on. Watching the kids get to know each other better, they have become very fast friends with their cousins. My fam in Utah has been having Family Home Evening as an extended family for over 30 years now each Fast Sunday and I miss it. We decided to start inviting Matt's family over for dinner on the first Sunday of each month. It has been awesome. This is where our now famous DodGeBaLL games started! The Johnson fam has definitely been one of the biggest blessing about our move.

The very next on my list kind of surprised me. I knew it would be great, I just didn't know how GrEaT! Our little Plymouth Branch has been such an uplifting part of my life this last year. When Mattie told me we were going to be attending a branch I thought that there might be some adjustment..I'll be honest maybe even a little sacrifice involved. Giving up some luxuries we take for granted in Utah. Having plenty of neighbors who are in your ward to help out when needed. Your Visiting Teachers & Home Teachers right around the corner. Only having to walk 2 minutes to do your own Visiting Teaching instead of a 30 minute drive one way to visit one sister. The Church isn't a stone's throw away for sure. We are minus a true chapel (most RS rooms are bigger!), cultural hall, large hallways, foyers, pews (definitely miss with Cyrus!) an organ, pulpit, choir seating & mother's lounge to name a few. It is kind of funny that our branch covers two time zones and is probably 40 miles wide by 50 miles deep!

There aren't usually enough people to cover all the callings, a full presidency is extremely rare, actually I don't think any of the auxillaries have a full presidency. Poor Matt is the YM president and has no counselors or a secretary, but he did just barely get a scout master YAY!! We are luckier in our RS presidency, we are only minus a secretary. There are only 11 kids in primary I think, 11 that come regularly any way.

What I have come to learn and honestly treasure....none of that matters. The Church is as true here in Plymouth as it is anywhere. I always knew that, but it has been beautiful to see it in action. We are surrounded by some of the most wonderful people I have ever met. There are no age barriers, no groups, nothing that gets in the way of the Spirit and Love. I remember the first day we came in, I think every single person in the branch gave me a hug. Our compassionate service leader, who is in her mid 80's, came up to me and said to call for any reason! She was worried about me and all the moving in my condition...I knew she meant it too when she offered to babysit.

This picture actually makes it look bigger than it is, it is probably a 1/4 the size of a regular meeting house.
We have already seen what it has done for our girls as they get used to usually being the only member around. They love to share their testimonies and have offered Book Of Mormons to several of their friends already!
We have the missionaries over often and love to meet and support them.
People cling to their testimonies and the principles of the Gospel. They hang on to survive out here where we are so few. It is challenging and very rewarding.
I LOVE the Plymouth Branch!

Worst for last. I miss my family so painfully bad. Sometimes It just makes me cry. I love my parents and just wish I could hug them whenever I want. When I would have a bad day or week, I would just load the kids up and head to my mom's for a break. Being with her, sharing our friendship would just lift me right back up. She is my best friend and therapist all in one, you know the motherly advice I am talking about. I miss her. My Dad has always been my hero and I miss going to him for advice and a tight squeeze when ever I needed. I miss him, he was the example that made me determined to find a man like Matt. It hurts. I am a grown woman, but I need my Mom and Dad. Most of you know how great my parents are, it is truly hard to be away from them and Logan, Megan and Lloyd...the whole fam damily!

But, we are supposed to be here in Indiana, that much I know. I have fallen in love with many of the things we've discovered living out here. I am a country girl. I love the country! I wish we lived even further out in the country!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Second Day of School, Second Day of School!

I hope my "Finding Nemo" reference is coming through in the titles! Any how...
Lock Down

That is right, second day of school... and there was a lock down! That is so comforting isn't it!?! There was some crazy guy a mile or so away that killed someone and was pointing guns at police officers. He had a massive arsenal in his house, major stockpile of guns and ammo...complete with armor piercing bullets. First he ran from police, then there was a standoff and finally police shot him in the shoulder and took him down.
All joking aside I am glad that there are systems in place to lock down schools and keep the kids safe. The police responded very quickly to the schools and placed officers and troopers all around to protect the kids.
Ellery and Bailey were a little weary. I guess there was a kid in Ellery's class that totally freaked out and shouted that they were going to die! Ellery said he was "annoying" The funny thing is, they had just completed a lock down drill shortly before the real thing came along.
So a great start to the year!! Ah!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First Day of School! First Day of School!

Boy are we excited around and the kids! Ellery and Bailey have been counting down the days for weeks now, so this morning was a BiG thing!

Here are our morning pics on the way to school. We had a great morning, just kind of fell right back into our early morning routine. Great morning, all except when Matt came out to see them off on the bus in his bathrobe! What the heck, some day that kind of stuff is going to mortify the girls!!
The outfits they picked out. It was still the tiniest bit dark so Bailey thought the glow stick was a good idea to help find the bus! Ha!
I sure am going to miss their cute little mugs all day!
They leave at 7:25-ish and get home at 3:30,
long day without my girlies!
Jumping for joy at the sight of the bus!
The "happy dance" continues.
The reality set in for poor Taite when they got on the bus, she was a sad little girl to loose her two best buddies. 2 more years for her since she barely misses the cutt off next year!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Johnson Family Party!

I just had to put this picture up because it was so stinkin cute!! Two of my 3 FaVoRiTe boys!!

Every year Matt's Dad, Big Al puts on a HUGE family party! It is awesome! There is a ton of food, fun and family. This year was just a blast. From the first time that I met Matt's family, I have felt completely at home, they are wonderful and I am SO thankful for them!

Matt's Dad, Al lives on about 85 acres of corn. Well 8 acres around the house and 77 of corn and woods. It is beautiful! The kids had a blast going on go-cart rides and 4 wheeler rides through the corn fields and woods. It was such a great time. Ellery learned to drive the go-cart and it was all we could do to pry her out of it! They rented one of those huge blow up jumpers, not very good pictures of it, but it was huge! Then of course we played our now famous dodgeball tournaments. We even spray painted boundaries, we are getting serious! It was awesome!

Amazing food and great conversation with family and friends from all around. If only it hadn't been so dang hot. It was in the 90's with I think 78% humidity! I was melting. Give me my desert back people! I am loving Indiana just for this reason...getting to know this awesome family! LOVE you Johnsons!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Latest funnies

Oh how I love this girl! The other day the girls had a "summer fun" piano recital. It was low key and informal, just practice performing.
They were asked by their teacher to pick 2-3 of the songs they have been practicing. As Mrs. Woolley opened the recital she explained this and then said that Bailey could not choose just 3 and had to play 5. Everyone chuckled.
Then a few minutes later is was Bay's turn. She played each piece...1...2....3 with Mrs. Woolley announcing each title. After the 3rd song Bailey quickly reached up and turned the page of her book before her teacher could trade books for her next "planned piece" She didn't stop with that extra song, but went immediately into the song on the adjacent page.
Everyone was giggling because it was obvious she was sneaking in an extra song or two. She played 7 songs in all. After she was done, or should I say after Mrs. Woolley was able to confiscate all of Bailey's books, Bailey hopped up and took a huge bow with a gigantic grin on her face! Her teacher said, "How can I get upset about that....she LOVES to play!"
What a little performer!

Lately Tommy here has been responding to every question and response with a loving "Roger that Mom!" "Roger that Dad!" I hope she is always that enthusiastic when asked to make her bed!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!!!

Preseason begins today baby!!!
Can't you just hear that music starting off your evening.
(I'm a good singer huh!)
Al Michaels narrating my night.
Matt and my Sunday and Mondays are set! just won't be the same without Madden,
but still we are excited.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Just like Daddy!

Did you know Ellery used to be a 300 lb lineman!
I can't believe those are Matt's shorts, she looks so tiny!

Harvest Time....yum!

I just have to thank my hubby for all his hard work in our garden! Mattie you are the BEST!! It has been awesome, I've been preparing food for weeks now and I think we can definitely say we are stocked up for the winter! Squash, zucchini, sweet peas, broccoli, pumpkins, tomatoes, green beans, corn, onions, asparagus, cauliflower, lettuce, garlic, strawberries..I think I got it all.
I had to put this picture up, we had already picked almost all the sweet corn but I wanted to show how tall his corn grew. Matt is 6'5 people! Look how stinkin tall that corn is!

Here are the girls helping me with a small portion of the beans. I just snap the ends, but the girlies like to go all out and cut them. I think it makes them feel "grown-up" whatever, I am just thankful for the help. I think the garden has been very good in helping their work ethic grow....ha ha....grow---get it! They are hard little workers.

Look at these weird beans...great for homemade refried beans!

We're not near done and he's been plantin again, lots of work but well worth it!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Headin to the Beach!

Lake Michigan!
Our kids have never been to the ocean or any beach so to say they were excited is a major understatement. It was real spur of the moment, we headed up to St. Joseph, Michigan with some friends. St. Joe is an awesome town and the beach was beautiful!
The only downer was the weather. We brought a rainy day with us. Right as we pulled up the storm was rollin in, the wind off the lake was CrAzY! But amazingly the water was very warm, so we still had a blast. It started raining pretty good so we had to head out, but now we know where to go for great fun! Thanks Helm Family!
When we saw the weather, we thought we would just go get our feet in. Matt and I didn't even get our swim suits on. Once Bailey felt the water with her feet....she just had to dive in!
She just wanted to look for seashells, but once she saw how much
fun Bay was having, she dove right in too!
He wanted to get in so badly!
First of all, Cy is kind of OCD and MUST wear socks at
almost all times. Yes, that means even with sandals!
He would NOT take them off. He was a
little leary of the water, but once he got in
he LOVED it! (socks on the whole time!)
Now poor Taite was another story. Totally uneasy with the waves.
She didn't want to get in, I even told her Oma loves the beach.
It didn't work.
I thought if I just got her in, she would like it.
Not so much! As soon as she could get out of my grip, she was out of there!

What a GrEaT DaY!