Thursday, April 28, 2011

The time has come...

Alright, I am finally going to do it. I am such a creature of habit and I really don't like change, but I am moving to the new blog! Yep, I am really going to do it now. No more new posts will be showing up here. When you get to the new blog, make sure you sign up to "follow by email" so that you will receive email notifications of new posts. I am not going to use the "disqus" commenting anymore, so the best way to receive follow up comments is to have a Gmail account.

Our new blog address is . So go check it out. There are already a few posts over there, and once I find the motivation I'll write something new.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Weekend and the week after

I know, I know. I said I'd be switching blogs soon. I was waiting on a few things, and now I need to just finish up a few other things, and then it will be done!

In the meantime, I'll tell you about how we spent Easter. This year we were able to go with the Huisman family to DeMotte, Indiana. Now DeMotte holds a special place in my heart because I was born in Valparaiso, IN and spent the first 4 years of my life right outside of DeMotte in Roselawn. My dad was a pastor at a church in Roselawn, and my family stayed in touch with a lot of people in the DeMotte area, including my best friend's grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles-the Hubers!! We drove down on Saturday morning, arrived a little after 10, the kids ran around and played, then they headed out to Rachel's in-laws hobby farm to see the new baby goats. I don't have any pictures of that because I stayed back and took a nap! After they came back, we went to Rachel's brothers house to see their one day old kittens and fly a kite. The kids were so excited to see the little kitties. They were SO tiny. It was a windy day, so the kite flying was fun too. Then we headed back to Uncle Steve and Aunt Debbie's and ordered pizza. The kids watched a movie and went to bed and the adults played cards.

The next morning, our family headed to Roselawn for church, where we saw lots of familiar faces. Then it was back to the Hubers for a HUGE Easter dinner. We had lots of time to visit and the kids had lots of time to run around outside. Rachel and I went to her Uncle Mark's house to visit with more family. I just love being with all the Hubers. It's like they are family, and they've become that for Darin, Tyson and Jori too! We drove home later that afternoon and still managed to get the kids to bed at a decent time.

Tuesday night was a busy night for our family. First, we had Tyson's school Art Show. Actually, it was the district Art Show and his art was one of the pieces chosen from all the elementary schools, middle schools and high school. He was so excited! What made the night even more special was that we were able to see more Hubers! Uncle Bud and Aunt Bernice were actually in Michigan for Easter, so we didn't get to see them, but now they are here for the week, so they brought Jenna along to check out the Art Show. Tyson did such a great job and we are so proud of him! 
Tyson's "Masai"
After a quick tour through the rest of the Art Show, we headed back to the apartment. Then Darin and Tyson headed out to pick up our new laptop (yay!) and Jori and I headed to her school for Mom's Night Out! First we did some singing and dancing. One of the songs was called "Circle Round the Zero" and as soon as I heard it, I started reliving a moment from college that was so horrifying. I took a class called "Music in Community" and we learned all these little kids songs and this was one of the songs. The horrifying thing was that you stood in a circle, and then one person walked around the middle, and if they stopped in front of you, you had to act out the following "back back zero", which involved bumping butts, "side side zero", which was bumping your sides together and then a couple other things. I HATED that song, and everyone knew it and would purposefully stop in front of ME. Seriously, bumping behinds with people that I don't really know is not on my list of favorite things to do! After the singing time, we had ice cream sundaes. Then we made a cute little flower pot craft and that was it. My sweet girls said "Daddy date night was much more fun". Thanks Jori!

 We've had a fantastic few days. Make sure you go here to check out the rest of the pictures and I added some new videos here!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sausage and Tomato Rigatoni

When we moved into our apartment, our friends Andy and Whitney brought us this meal. It was amazing. My mom was here at the time and she, Darin and I were all just stuffing our faces full of this deliciousness. I think Tyson ate at least a serving and Jori was not a fan. I think it was a little spicy for them, but the adults LOVED it. So, here is the recipe:

Sausage and Tomato Rigatoni

prep: 10 min.      total time: 30 min.

4    cups of rigatoni pasta (8oz.) uncooked (really any tube pasta will do; I usually use penne)
1    lb. Italian sausage cut into chunks
1    red onion, sliced
1/4 cup tomato paste (I use the whole small can because I like it a bit saucy)
1/4 cup Sun- Dried Tomato Dressing
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta as directed on package.
Meanwhile, brown sausage in a large nonstick skillet; drain. Stir in onions and tomato paste; cover. Cook 15 min. or until onions are tender and sausage is cooked through, stirring occasionally. Stir in dressing. Toss sausage mixture with pasta. Sprinkle with parsley and cheese.

YUM!!! I think I need to go grocery shopping soon!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Change is a coming

The time has come. I have been working on a new blog for a while and am ready to make the switch! This blog will still be available, but I am going to remove the link to the Picasa Pictures on the right hand side, and some other things including the links to other blogs. So, if you've been stalking them through my blog, you'd better write the web addresses down. I finally started making use of Google Reader, which pulls all the blogs I read into one place. (Thanks Michelle for teaching me all about it!) I won't make changes for a few more days in case there are things you want to jot down, but change is a coming!

I think I might be going back to the regular comment system. If you have a gmail account, you can check a box to receive follow up comments if you so desire. Just make sure that you are logged in before you publish your comment and the option will be made available to you. You will need to sign up to receive the new blog by email and I also added a feature where you can subscribe to comments, but that means you'll be getting all the comments sent to you. I might add disqus to the new blog, but we'll see. I know, you all care so much about all these details!

So, I will send out a post soon with the new blog address!

Pasta with white sauce

Rachel just gave me this recipe yesterday afternoon and I made it last night for dinner. Jori refused to even try it, which ended up being good for the rest of us because we finished the whole pan.

Pasta with White Sauce

8 oz pasta
4 cloves garlic or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup butter melted
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta. Mix everything else up EXCEPT the cheese in a skillet. Drain pasta and add to this mixture, then add cheese immediately, stir together well and serve. 

It was really, really good, but Darin was a little grossed out by how much butter was in it. So I think next time I will try to make it with 1/2 the butter and more wine (unless someone has a better idea!). Rachel said they used to put the little tiny shrimp in it. I think peas or artichokes would also have tasted great. I chopped the garlic with a knife, so there were some bigger pieces, but they were all soft and squishy and delish because they had cooked down in the butter and wine. Mmmm. Enjoy!

Corn Tortillas

Here is a recipe that Darin's dad used to make. We actually had these tortillas when we were in Sioux Center. As I said in that post, I am not a huge fan of corn tortillas, but they were still good. Here is the recipe from LaShawn. She writes recipes like I do, with lots of substitutions and suggestions : )

Dad’s Taco Shells

3 eggs (I use just the whites to make it healthier)
1 ½ cup milk (I maybe add another tablespoon to make up for the egg yolks, but I do not measure that out just add a tiny bit)
1 cup flour (I do ½ white flour ½ whole wheat flour, and I have even done all whole wheat flour)
1 tsp salt ( do NOT forget this, they do not taste the same at all without it!!!!
½ cup cornmeal
1 tbls butter ( I just put a big dab of spray butter in, I never measure it just guess about 1 tbls)

Mix all together (I use a wire wisk, it seams to mix it the best).  Put a little butter on a frying pan (I just use pam to cut fat again).  Take 1/3 cup measuring cup and pour into hot pan, (I usually put the burner on medium and let it get warm before you start).  Right after you put the batter in take the pan and move it around so that it makes a shell.  Let it fry for a couple minutes before turning it over.  (You probably have a couple of bad ones before you get the hang of it, when I used to make them the first one never turned out, now that I do it all the time it is easier.) 

Thanks for showing us how to make these when we came LaShawn!

Spring Break 2011

We just spent such a fun week with Darin's family. We left Michigan on Friday around 4, stopped at a hotel overnight and arrived in Edgerton around 2:30 on Saturday. The kids were so excited to be there that they both jumped out of the van while we were still pulling into the driveway. Safe? No, but it was fun to see how excited they were. Darin's sister Daci and her family came over from Luverne and stayed for dinner and to watch the final 4 games. Tyson and Jori were so excited to see some of their cousins. We had homemade pizza for dinner.

On Sunday we had church and then enjoyed a fun day filled with lots of family. Daci and her family came back after church and LaShawn, Kyle and the kids came from Sioux Center. Evan and Jordan couldn't make it for lunch, but eventually we were all together. It is crazy how much noise 9 kids can make. Thankfully they played outside for most of the day and everyone seemed to get along. Later that afternoon Darin's aunts and uncles on his dad's side came over to visit, so the house was even more full of family. It was fun to catch up with everyone. I always love having the big family get togethers because I didn't grow up with a lot of family around, so I just think it is so special to have aunts and uncles and cousins near by. We are especially thankful that Darin's Grandpa and Grandma Van are still right in Edgerton.

Now lets see if I can keep the rest of the week straight! On Monday I think Karen and I went to Tally Ho for coffee and met up with Heidi. That afternoon Darin and I went to Sioux Falls to spend some time with Evan and Jordan. It was so nice to be able to sit and talk with them, eat a great dinner and play some really fun games (Ticket to Ride and Blockus). Monday night was the college basketball final, so we stayed and watched the game with them. I did not really watch the game, but I am sure most of you knew that!

On Tuesday Daci and Zach came to hang out while the kids were in school. We walked to the library and the kids had so much fun. The Edgerton Library might just be the best library ever. I would have loved to check out a bunch of books from there. There was a play house for the kids, a magnetic wall, some foam/goo stuff to play with and just so many books. Princess books, Fancy Nancy, dentist books, Star Wars, and movies-all for free! After the library we headed to Katie's Closet, a kids consignment store. I found a pair of shoes for Jori that are exactly like a pair that Jenna has, so she was excited about that. Then Darin and I met with his Uncle Randy, who is also our investment advisor. I ate all the good candy out of the candy dish while Darin and Randy did all the talking. Then it was back home for lunch. Tuesday night is family night at the Pizza Ranch, so of course we headed there for dinner. No trip to Edgerton would be complete without a stop at the Pizza Ranch!

On Wednesday morning I had a massage. It was awesome. I would have gladly laid there for more than an hour, but we had big plans for our day. We were heading out to Luverne to visit Daci, Justin, Brooklynn (once she was out of school), Makenna and Zach. We hadn't seen the new addition they added to their house last summer, so it was fun to get a tour and check things out! After lunch, Darin and the kids went back to the farm with Justin. They had such a good time. They saw calves, went to a pig farm (and smelled like it too!), and helped Justin out doing a few things. The girls and Zach came home after an hour or so, but Darin and Tyson went back to the farm and Tyson's favorite moments were watching Justin "put his hand up two cows butts" and riding the four wheeler. He kept talking about those two things over and over again! We left Luverne around 5, met up with Darin's mom for a kid hand-off, then headed to Sioux Falls to meet up with some of Darin's old classmates for dinner. Darin had a great time catching up with his friends and I enjoyed getting to meet some new people and also see some old friends (Hi VanderPols).
 On Thursday we headed to Sioux Center to spend the day with LaShawn and the kids. We met up in Rock Valley, Iowa to do a little shopping first. I was excited to go to Rock Valley because my Grandma Brouwer used to live their and my Uncle Faynor and Aunt Jane still do live there. Darin and I took the kids to the cemetery and after a bit of searching and a phone call to my mom, we found my Grandma and Grandpa's headstone. It was super windy out so we only stopped for a minute. Then we met up with the others at the consignment stores. They were all really big and overwhelming. It was fun to look around and I found a few cute t-shirts for Tyson, including a Chicago Cubs shirt! After shopping, we followed LaShawn back to their new house. It was fun seeing their new place and Tyson and Jori were excited to see so many toys. We had lunch, then LaShawn picked Kaden up from school early so he and Tyson could play together. This went well for about 45 minutes, but then something happened involving a rope and it was all downhill from there : ) Thankfully Jori and Nevaeh were getting along great and we tried to just ignore the boys. We stayed for dinner and LaShawn showed us how to make homemade corn tortillas. Jori thought they were pancakes, but she is our picky eater. I prefer flour tortillas instead of corn, but they were good. I know that tortillas are hard to come by in South Africa, so it will be nice to have a way to make them when we are there. We headed back to Edgerton after dinner and managed to get the kids to bed before 8.
 Friday was a busy day. Heidi came over for coffee, Grandpa took Tyson out to breakfast, Daci stopped over for a while,and we packed up all of our stuff. Somewhere in there Tyson and Jori got to open their stocking stuffers from this past Christmas. They got the neatest things. Grandma Karen took a bunch of Jori's too small (but still loved) clothes home with her a couple weeks ago and made a quilt, a purse and a bunch of clothes for Jori's doll Charity out of them. SO cute and special. Tyson got a lot of cool new doctor stuff including a real stethoscope and blood pressure cuff. Needless to say, both kids were really happy! We had plans to get together with Darin's grandpa and grandma, but after waiting for them for an hour, we finally called and found out they were waiting for us to come to their house. Just a slight miscommunication! So Grandpa and Grandma Van came over and we were blessed to be able to spend a little more time with them. We had to cut our visit short because we needed to get to Sioux Falls for family pictures. I was not looking forward to this as pictures always stress me out, but the picture taking went great. It was a bit chilly outside, but I am really excited to see the pictures and will be sure to put some up on our blog. After pictures, we brought the kids to a friend of LaShawn (8 kids in all) and then the adults went out to dinner at Carnaval Brazilian Grill. It was such a fun place to eat. There was a huge salad bar, but the best part was they brought slabs of meat on skewers right to your table, then sliced off however much you wanted. I think we were all on protein overload by the end of the night. We picked up the kids and headed back for our last sleep in Edgerton.

Saturday morning came and we all got up and got ready then headed off to stay at a hotel for the night about 3 hours from Edgerton. We all stopped at a McDonald's for lunch, then the women went shopping for a while and the guys took the kids to the hotel to swim. Then the women went to the hotel to take over kid duty and the guys headed to Minneapolis to watch a Twins game. All the kids had a great time swimming and eating pizza and playing together. I am so thankful our kids have so many cousins to play with. I just think it is so special for them. Once the kids were sleeping, we hung out in Jordan and Evan's room and just talked. Then LaShawn and Karen headed out to get us some ice cream and right after they got back, the guys returned from their game. Then we all split up and went to bed, knowing that Sunday morning was getting closer and closer.

Sunday morning we woke up, had breakfast and then started to say goodbye to Darin's family. His dad had to leave early for a business trip, so we said goodbye to him. The kids all ran outside to say one more goodbye to Grandpa Rick. Then we all squeezed into a hotel room and Grandma Karen prayed for us as we were getting ready to leave and not see each other for a long while. Then the tears started. I don't think any of us wanted to actually say goodbye, but it had to be done. Tyson kept going around saying "why is everyone crying", I actually didn't cry, but I think I had just steeled myself that this was going to be a hard morning and knew we just had to do it. As we were driving away, Jori started crying and was kept turning around saying "I want to see Grandma" and that is when I started crying, but then we started talking about how great it is that we can still call each other and send letters and skype and the tears stopped. There were a few times throughout our 9 hour drive home that one of the kids would say "I miss everyone", but they really handled it well.

And that wraps up our fabulous week. Saying goodbye was not so fun, but we are so thankful for the time we could spend with everyone and the memories that were made. (Don't forget to check out the rest of our pictures over here and you can check out a few videos from our week over here. Once you are over at YouTube, you can subscribe and there is a box you can check to receive email updates when new videos are posted!)