Category Archives: Holiday

Would You Like a Valentine? {some easy favorites}

Let’s start with the treats, shall we?

1. Dark decadent homemade chocolate. With only three all-natural ingredients, this chocolate is so easy to make, very tasty, and GOOD for your body!


2. The Valentine Fruit Heartfruit-heart

3. A Valentine Breakfastpuffpancakes

4. Oreo Truffles and Chocolate Covered Strawberries DSC_0096

5. My Favorite Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookie  (thick, soft, and delicious!)DSC_0070-1024x680

6. Ipod Valentines (comes with a free printable!) Yes, ironic given my technology rants 🙂


7. My favorite Valentine tradition: the annual heart attack! I thought we might be getting too old for this, but we did this again last night and nope, never too old for this activity. Cut out heart, write someone nice for each person in the family, and then read them out loud. By the end, EVERYONE is smiling: Grandpa, Uncle, Dad, teenagers, and pre-teens. Even the dog got a valentine! Hang them on the wall and you’ve got a reminder that you like one another.

paige1 momReally?



Pumpkin Cookies with Penuche Frosting (best fall cookie)

Posting again because it’s Halloween and this is my favorite treat: pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting. Woo-Hoo, BOO!

This recipe is adapted from a Pillsbury cookbook (I omitted 1/2 cup white sugar and it’s still a beautiful thing.)

A warning: This cookie is only allowed in October and November. Otherwise, I’d eat so many I’d turn into a pumpkin and roll away.

They are really that good.


I have resisted posting this recipe here because I like to blog only healthy treats.


The story goes like this – I made this decadent treat for my son’s eighth-grade field trip bake sale. He brought them to school and came home saying, “Mom, the teachers didn’t even put them out – they ATE them! They ate ALL of them!”

Of course this delighted me.

And I couldn’t blame them. I don’t like to share them either.

The next day, several teachers pounced on me, begging me for the recipe. Okay, I might be exaggerating the pouncing part. But they really really wanted it, so I relented.

I’m just giving you what you want 🙂


First, you’ll cream the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and pumpkin. Then you’ll add the dry mix of flour, baking powder and soda, a dash of cinnamon and salt.


I could tell you that I grew the pumpkin myself, cut, cooked, and pureed them, too. But that would be a lie. Canned Libby’s pumpkin does quite nicely!


Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes and you’ve got this glorious yum-yum. Sometimes we just eat them plain and they’re still a treat.

While the cookie cools, make the  frosting.


The original frosting does not call for cream cheese, but unless you add a boatload more powdered sugar, the frosting is too runny. Cream cheese is a nice binder and the taste? Mmm.

DSC_0115Halloween party, anyone?
So hear you go, my favorite fall cookie (aka, the cookie the teachers won’t share):

Pumpkin Cookies with Penuche (& Cream Cheese) Frosting: 

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (plain, not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups + 1 heaping tablespoon flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1-2 cup powdered sugar (or to desired thickness)
  • 4-8 ounces cream cheese (optional & takes the place of some of the powdered sugar)

Heat over to 350. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, pumpkin, and egg. Mix. Add flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix just until incorporated. Spoon onto baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool.

Frosting Directions:

Melt 3 tablespoons butter over low heat. Add 1/4 cup brown sugar. Stir constantly until small boil, slightly thickened. Cool 10 minutes. If using a hand mixer, add 1/4 cup milk and 1-2 cups powdered sugar (or enough for desired thickness.) Optional: 4 ounces cream cheese, which can take the place of some of the powdered sugar. Frosting should be thick enough to frost cookie without running off.

Now for the best part: Eat

Happy fall!


Can You Help Our Minimalist Easter Bunny?


I made this Easter Bread once. It was yummy.

Naturally-Dyed Eggs

Want to dye eggs with tumeric, beet juice, and cabbage?

Keep it simple, keep it simple. This is our Easter mantra, right?

The Holy Week coincides with me reading the advance copy of Joshua Becker’s book, The More of Less. Becker is the author of the wildly popular blog, Becoming Minimalist . This book is good!

I’m underlining EVERYTHING, folding down pages, making stars, and nodding YES the whole way through…and I’m only half-way through.

More on the book later, but it’s forcing me to look at all our STUFF, giddily purging closets and drawers and gasp – hair products (this shall be a great trial and you will need to hold my hand.)

And…in comes the Easter basket. This Saturday, the Easter Bunny is going to come hopping through the house. Bunny needs some help.

It seems quite incongruous to preach the evils of sugar and more stuff and then promptly hand it over in honor of a holy holiday, oh, but it’s Easter! This, my friends, is what Gretchen Rubin would call a “loophole:” justification for our behavior because it’s a “special occasion” or we’re on vacation or because “it’s just this once.” Ha! It’s never just once! Tell me, who can eat just one Cadbury egg???

Feeling the pressure of tradition, marketing, and childhood nostalgia…I bought sugar. The Professor made me. But just a wee bit. Like Cadbury eggs and the Trader Joe’s jelly beans.

I did not buy Twinkies even though I wanted them and it’s totally tradition to have a Twinkie in the Easter basket. sniff.

So. In the spirit of minimalism, what’s a minimalist Easter bunny to do?

Some ideas:

  • Colored pens and markers (we could live happily in Staples)
  • Underwear (yep, I’m fun)
  • Hamilton musical tickets (hey, a girl can dream, right??!!)
  • An orange
  • A can of V-8 juice
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Bubbles
  • Lip gloss
  • Hair elastics
  • Fingernail polish
  • Gum
  • Raspberries
  • Beef jerky
  • A picnic gift certificate?
  • A bike ride with dad?

Geez, this is such a first-world problem isn’t it?

I don’t need to put ALL of these things in the basket, but I’d like a basket that contains a few meaningful, frugal, and tasty delights.


Ideas? What are you doing for a healthier, less sugary, less “stuff,” Easter?

Thank you in advance. Love, the minimalist Easter Bunny

Post script: Here are some great ideas from Facebook commenters!

Way back when, I was known to give my kids toothbrushes at Easter.  smile emoticon Another idea if your kids like to plant things: packets of seeds. (Tickets for “Hamilton”, what every “big” girl wants!) -Connie

We used to get socks and new Keds-type sneakers. We also used to get updated rain gear. Kind of a preparing for spring type of theme. – Robin

Our Easter bunny brings bathing suits! Both necessary and fun!! – Michelle

Love it! I’m so over the sugar… (But I did give in for a little ). Will is getting a glove for baseball, Hannah a swimsuit, Crosby a ball cap, Ella some socks smile emoticon. Always toothbrushes too- Those should fill the baskets right up! -Katelyn

My mom started getting us journals every Easter and I loved it. -Abbie

Thanks for starting this conversation. Chris and I were just about to give our kids two baskets of cavities. Now I have some awesome ideas to give instead! -Kat

 Last year for my nephews, we got them stuff to start their garden. Seeds and seed starters. A little watering can could be cute. They weren’t super excited but once they were able to start planting and eventually see their veggies growing, I think they loved it! They were proud of what they grew. -Paige

We give them water bottles and this year they are also getting zen tangling coloring books for a little zen time…. -Annie

My mother used to hide peanuts in the shell instead of eggs filled with candy, although we didn’t love that as kids… :o) -Becky

I was one of 5 kids growing up and we received a community basket each year. There were always 5 identical chocolate bunnies but then there were other things like jump ropes, bubbles, the jungle book movie, etc depending on the year. It was never a lot, usually simple and usually geared toward something we could do together. -Jillian

We bought our children Nerf guns. They rediscovered an old gun of Ammons and they have been shooting it with the 2 remaining bullets. We figure this will make for a fun morning and a great lesson on physical vs spiritual death and the resurrection, lol. -Kate

I love swimsuits and flip flops, or something similar spring related, something you need to buy anyway. This year I’m going to put a a big bottle of Sadie’s favorite shampoo and conditioner. You know, the nice stuff that I never want to buy. I’ll probably do something relative to that for my younger ones, like bubble bath, or something. -Annaca

 Every year I buy a lego set, open the box and fill plastic eggs with all the pieces. After all the eggs are found they work on building the project together. -Jackie

We do coupons fr things they don’t get daily. Like iPad time or tv time get of time out free things like that -Jessica

New bike helmets, sandals and each a Lego set. Baseballs and softballs too and bubbles! -Jill

I have to admit – I love Easter baskets! And candy! But we asked the Easter Bunny to come on Saturday, and he usually brought more “toys” than candy, and when the kids were little, we decided to focus less on the baskets and more on our new Easter tradition, which we still do today. We try to go fishing Easter weekend, if we can. If we can’t, we just buy a nice, big salmon from Costco. Then, for Easter dinner, we have our loaves and fishes meal. Served in baskets with butter and honey. Oh, and homemade grape juice, which we usually get from our neighbors. As the years have progressed, we have added other items to the menu, which may or may not go with the theme. But we ALWAYS have the loaves and fishes! And talk about our favorite stories from the Old Testament. That’s one tradition I’m really glad we started! -Naomi

You guys rock!


labor day weekend: work hard, play hard

Labor Day! A dreamy four-day weekend and the last hurrah before school really begins. But before we play, we must labor. unnamed-19We bought the wood for new garden beds two years ago and these strapping young men finally nailed them together. Yeah, that’s how we roll around here.unnamed-22One must use these corner pieces or your garden beds to fall apart!unnamed-21Tenny was working very hard, too.unnamed-23We were away so much this summer that this beauty was one of the few, the brave, the proud…tomatoes hanging on the plant.unnamed-24These little punkins are somehow growing outside the garden beds in a random garden patch. Who knows how these things happen. It’s like a Jack and the Beanstalk story. We like it!unnamed-26And the squash is doing something. Remember: you can eat these tasty things!

unnamed-20 Do you see our dry grass? We’ve had an unusually dry summer. While boys nailed wood, I cut down all the hostas. This little gem of a girl swept them all up…unnamed-25And dumped them on the garden beds to protect them from weeds and winter.unnamed-27We peeked into the compost. Do you compost? It makes the most magical dirt.

After the work, came the play on Monday: the ocean! Whew!

unnamed-15Paige was buried as a mermaid.unnamedHailey, my adorable niece was twirled around by Ian – just arrived from Alaska!

unnamed-11We kinda like Ian

unnamed-18Beach games!

unnamed-1 unnamed-17Grandma took us down to the water’s edge where the children were given a history lesson on our ancestors and the great sink shipping at isles of shoals. It was fascinating. I’m so grateful for this woman! It reminds me: we need to know and write our stories or they will be lost.

unnamed-4 Ian and Nellie went head to headunnamed-6 unnamed-5 unnamed-8 Cousins!unnamed-10 Boogie boarding – my favorite! It was 90 degrees, making the New Hampshire water bearable.unnamed-9 Rye Beach, NHunnamed-12 Diving into the wavesunnamed-13

unnamed-16And the fab four came out of the sea together…ready to greet another school year. Ready to work hard and play hard.


The Aftermath

Aren’t these cute?  My mother-in-law made them.  Chocolate-covered pretzels, eggs, and peeps.  She is the queen of creativity and thank goodness for Grandma; she makes sure the holidays are celebrated in style.

We are now in recovery mode from the Easter holiday.  Which was grand.  But I’m very tired.  Last night I dreamed I was running away from a tsunami. I could see it coming and the water was very cold. I knew where my children were, but I couldn’t get to them.  What do you think this means?  My interpretation:  More naps. 

Easter came at the end of an exciting week.

After months of practice, The Dutchess made her debut in her school’s Alice in Wonderland.  At first she was sad she didn’t get the part of Alice.  But then she realized she was born to play royalty and hold a pig baby.

And the boy was the Knave of Hearts who ate the tarts, but didn’t really, only because the poem said so.  Confused?  So was the knave.  Lewis Carroll was truly an intriguing individual. I feel compelled to read more about him.

The play was amazing.  All the kids were great, the set breath-taking, and the directors deserve more than the granola we gave them.  As a parent, I’m especially grateful for teachers who love, care, and educate children.  

We forgot to buy flowers (bad mom?) for the Dutchess so Brynne found a pine branch and a popped balloon and wrapped it around the pine branch.  Cope was super pleased.  But I did buy her pizza afterwards so all was forgiven.  I hope.
Easter was good.  Pretty much.  On Saturday there were eggs filled with candy, and Nelson got a dusty bottle of bacon bits from the basement.

On Sunday morning I saw the sunrise with Brynne.  I wanted to keep that nice, quiet Easter feeling as we returned home.  Except everyone seemed to be taking turns crying.  Paige said, “Can we wake up again and just start over?”  We had to start over more than once.  

Here is our Easter picture.  I really wanted to actually get in the picture.  But that didn’t happen.

This is Cope telling us that instead of saying, “Cheese” you’re supposed to say “Hi.”  Don’t you think it works so much better?

Brynne wore her beautiful new dress from Edna (thanks, Edna!) and Paige wore her beautiful new dress from Barbara (thanks, Barbara!)  Brynne also wore this heirloom jewelry from her great-great grandmother that is really just costume jewelry, but we love it anyway.  Of course it was promptly broken before we even got to church.  Cope was mad as she had already claimed it for her wedding.

A little better?  Nelson wore his duct tape bow-tie. 

Sweet things

Those white gloves didn’t stay white for long.  I have no idea what she’s doing.

Kiss, kiss

It’s hard not to laugh when Paige is trying to kiss you.

Painting the roses red, pink, and orange
Every year I want to take this picture of the flowers on the cross that sits outside of the congregational church down the street from my house.  I just happened to have my camera with me.

At church we are all asked to speak; usually your turn comes around about once a year if you’re so inclined to say yes.  Guess who got to speak on Sunday?  Lucky ducky me!  That really was the best part of the week – preparing for such a topic.  I’ll have tell you about it sometime when I’ve come out of my hazy stupor.  

After church we traveled to cousins in Needham, Massachusetts.  My brother-in-law told me the cake AND the frosting he had made did not have any butter in it.  Instead, he substituted…are you ready for this?  Avocado!  Yes, I know how exciting this is.  I pretty much freaked out I was so overcome with delight.  Oh, I have plans…

I can’t say it was the best part of Easter, because you know, there was the resurrection and all. But it was up there, you know?

I’m still enjoying the clouds up there.  

All weekend Paige kept telling me her throat hurt.  “I have strekt throat,” she insisted.  Poor thing was pretty much patted on the back and told to feel better.  Well.  She was right.  Did you know “strekt throat” usually makes it way back to the person who originally had it?  She had it in December.  All the tooth brushes are being Listerine’d and perhaps the bathroom should be cleaned…

The doctor was a really good doctor, a real no-nonsense but friendly lady.  She asked Paige if she liked school.  “No,” Paige said (which I wanted to refute as a lie.)  Why don’t you like school? the doctor asked.  “I miss my mom,” Paige said, which made me smile and the doctor frown. The concerned doctor quietly asked me if everything was “okay.”  Yes, I said, she likes school, especially after she gets on the bus.  

Then Paige proceeded to tell the doctor she has her own room, “but Brynne and I sleep in mama’s bed.” More shock and alarm.  “Oh! We have a lot of things to talk about!” the doctor said.  I wanted to go into a long justifiable explanation…but well, I was tired and crashing from all those Easter holiday jelly beans.

The sun is shining this morning, the kids are back in school…except Paige is still sleeping.  In my bed.  


Oh Valentine

I told myself that I was decorating early for Valentine’s.  I wanted to make a tissue paper rose wreath for the front door, hang hearts from every window, heart attack every room.  And now it’s already February 2nd and one minute ago I just took down the Christmas cards.

I have always loved Valentine’s day, even when I didn’t have a special valentine.  I like occasions that require giving something to someone else.  This is where Gregor will pounce…require being the operative word… You can hear him saying that, can’t you?  When I first met him I was appalled at his talk of “contrived holidays,” that are solely promoted to earn millions of dollars. I seriously wondered if I could love someone who didn’t love valentine’s day.  Would he even get me something?  This simply would not do.

He comes through though, every year.  Because he plays like a champ.  I turn a deaf ear to any contrived talk, choosing instead to live in my own perfect world where Disney is still pure, Vanilla is still ice, and Valentine’s day holds endless hopeful possibilities.  (He won’t admit it, but he does too.  I know it.)

And for heaven’s sake, what else do we have to look forward to in February?

My Valentine years have been tumultuous.

Fourth grade, elementary school.  Monte gives me a golden locket and ring.  I shine with pleasure all week.  Until we break up, the bad news delivered by my best friend.  I reluctantly give back the ring.  But I keep the locket.  Sorry, no prenup!

Sixth grade, elementary.  I share a kiss with my valentine, then turn around and spit off the small covered bridge at Toll Park.  “Ew,” I say.  I’m sure it was super attractive.

Seventh grade, junior high.  The big hair and newly acquired training bra is obviously a hit.  My valentine and I can’t even look at each without blushing.  I have to break it off through a note passed in the hallway through another friend.  I don’t feel too bad as he had his friend ask me out over the phone.  I still can’t remember if we ever said one single word to each other.  He had this nickname I cannot say out loud or even write.  My brothers however, still can’t let it go.

The in-between years are nothing spectacular.  Might have been those braces, who knows.

Senior year,  high school.  I slam my thumb in the door of my car (my parent’s car.  They don’t believe in pre-marital cars, part of the reason they approved of Gregor.  He rode a bike).  I try to just shake it off but the pressure builds up so quickly I am rolling around the floor in pain.  Instead of delivering “kiss-o-grams” wearing red lipstick, for student council, (something I was greatly looking forward to) I am at the doctor getting a small hole drilled into my thumb.  I never thought I would so enjoy that experience.  When I went to school the next day, Valentine’s, is over.  My friend grabs my thumb and says, “Now no one is going to marry you!”  Interesting perspective, don’t you think?

Freshman year, college.
Bad breakup.  Oh, I still want to climb under the covers to even think about how I cried in front of that boy.  I’m still so embarrassed. No Valentines.

Sophomore year, college.
Writing to a missionary.  Love cannot be sufficiently shared with scrupulous and chaste letters to a missionary.  I dream of the day I will have a proper valentine…

Junior year, college.
I am dating a boy who tells me he loves me.  I deliver a valentine early in the morning (a “big hunk” under his pillow) and wait all. day. long. for reciprocation.  It is 10:30 at night before the doorbell rings and I am in bed, in a huff, and can only give a vapid smile in return.  The relationship is all down hill from there.

Seniro year, college.  Cue the music here...
I meet “the one!”  I will finally have the valentine’s day of my dreams!  I make plans and though he speaks of this, “contrived holiday,” he admits that he’s never had a great valentine’s day either and that he always wanted one.  I finally understand why he doesn’t like this day. It is time to show the love.

This beautiful day turns into our first fight.  Oh the remembered horror.

My friend from the “pre-Gregor” days needed a date for his work party the night before Valentine’s day.  We were friends for years before I ever met Gregor.  I do admit I felt slightly conflicted because it was kind of a date, but on the other hand, we were only ever friends.

In typical Amy fashion, I did not want to hurt my friend’s feelings by trying to explain why I couldn’t go to the dinner party, so I said yes.  In further typical Amy fashion, I did not tell Gregor about this dinner date because I was afraid I would hurt his feelings.

Okay, by now I know that this was a mistake.  And I’ve really tried to work on this well-intentioned, but doomed, part of my personality.  Either I should not have gone on the dinner date and explained my lover’s jealous ego (kidding!) or run across the street to jealous lover’s apartment and explained the situation.  Maybe added a kiss or candy heart to quell sting.  Instead, I stewed over it, said nothing, and hoped I wouldn’t get caught.

My unrealistic hope was that I could go to this function without Gregor even knowing about it.  Thus, I wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.  Everyone would be happy as pie!

This was clearly (now) a stupid and naive plan.

When I got home from the dinner party, my roommates told me Gregor had come over. They had even told him where I was.  At first I was so mad they told him!  But then I was just mad.

I went over, fretting, tip-toeing, hoping for the best.

It was not the best.  The question was posed, rather incredulously, Why didn’t you just tell me?  I could not articulate my stupidity.  I ended up looking untrustworthy and feeling like a big fat liar.  Yes my dear, honesty really is the best policy.  So we adjourned for the night, with a Valentine’s Day hanging precariously in the balance, those bad feelings sitting heavy between us.

I made a cheesecake that night, the first one I ever made.

It was delivered in the morning as I watched my valentine leave for class.  It was a rather frosty encounter.  I dropped chocolate kisses all over his bedroom floor.  He reciprocated with flowers and chocolate, but the frown was indicative that I was clearly not forgiven.  That took a few more days.  And to this day, it still comes up.  Though by this time I try and laugh.

Love it just not always easy.  This year, however, all will be well because I am not going on any dinner dates and I’m going to make that tissue paper wreath, gosh darn it!  Paige and I are making elephant valentine’s.  Brynne and I are are making ipod valentines, “you rock!”  Cope giggles thinking about the big day, and Nelson pretends to throw up.  My husband no longer says, “contrived,” out loud, just sometimes under his breath and I pretend not to hear him.

Looking for ideas?  So many cute kid ideas at

For your front door, from NieNie:  Isn’t it great?
From Martha Stewart: has yummy ideas.  Breakfast for the lovies...
May your Valentine’s be merry and bright…and may all your Valentine’s be…right.

Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Thanksgiving was different this year.  Instead of our usual house packed-full-of-Makechnies, it was rather quiet.  Alison left for New York with Sydnie (have I mentioned severe baby withdrawel?), my mom left for Arizona, the Makechnie brothers came and went for a funeral.  Ian is out at school, Seth and Vince went to Hawaii, Kim and Glenn are about to have a baby…I was feeling rather sad about this; I’ve decided that I like our home bursting from the seams on holidays.
Thankfully, Steven, Tiffany, Johnny and Jessica flew in from California and Alana came from Massachusetts.  On Thanksgiving eve, we did nails.  Mine were embarrassingly terrible.  I’m very hard on my hands.  They need some extra love and attention.
Then we had a feast a day early at Grandma’s.  This is the only picture I took.  Can you believe it?
Thank you for coming to visit us!  

Thanksgiving morning there was no turkey trot for me.  Instead we trotted up to Smugglers’ Notch Vermont to meet up with our other Neeham Mass. cousins.

Cousin time!
See all that great snow?  We had a low-key, thoroughly enjoyable, Thanksgiving meal.  The four smallest had their own table.

The big ‘uns had the big table.  Good food, good company.  The meal ended abruptly when Nelson said, “Um, Mom?  The toilet is leaking.”  Brendaen jumped up from the table and ran into the bathroom to discover it was not “leaking,” but “overflowing.” Housekeeping was called.  Girls shrieked.  And Nelson was thoroughly schooled in art of toilet plumbing.  He walked away a better man.

There was a kid room with four beds for all eight children.  Party!!!!  They stayed up too late watching Barishnakov dance in The Nutcracker.  They woke early so they could squeeze in those final moments together and make sure they were overtired and cranky for driving with parents.  We wouldn’t have it any other way.
And then…Black Friday was upon us.
And we were in Vermont.  Taking pictures of farm houses.

And ducks.

And beautiful Lake Champlain in Burlington.  It was gorgeous.  The kids were cold.  This is the best I could do.

Burlington Vermont.  What a fun little town.  They even had a mall that we walked through.  Just so we could be part of the crazy shopping experience.
Next up was Stowe Vermont for a stop at Ben and Jerry’s.  I was starting to get antsy for a run by this time.  Have you noticed that?  The more you do something, the less you can live without it.

Finally, we were in Sharon Vermont, the birthplace of Joseph Smith.  Every year there is a live nativity and a Christmas lighting.  This is the first year we went.  For unto us a child is born…

The lights were beautiful.

We liked the real sheep and donkey.  We liked the music, the apple cider doughnuts, and the cool air that made the hot cider taste even better.

And then, after an unusual, but happy Thanksgiving, we were ready to come home and sleep in our own beds…and wake up to get ready for the next holiday (and a long run.)  But I’m too tired to think about that. Tomorrow I’ll think about it.  It’s off to bed, full of Thanksgiving.  Hope your gobble was just as grand.


This year we had some mighty fine and large pumpkins from our very own garden!  Then a neighbor came by and gave us three more.  No trips to the pumpkin patch this year.  We had a fun family home evening digging out pumpkin guts.  
I have dramatic children, no?

Brynne played a witch at school for her class play.  I began to video tape it per her request and I got message, tape ended.  Can you believe I’m still recording on tapes?  I need to get with it.  We’ve got loads of video to convert over.  Sorry B.  But what a cute witch!  It was funny to watch who was so shy and quiet and who didn’t mind an audience.  This one is definitely on the shy side when it comes to public performance.

Oh. Oh. Oh.  You’re about to get a baby fever post.  Because we’ve all got it.  Bad.  Real bad.  Allison and her baby Sydnie are visiting from New York City.  Sydnie is such a doll.  She’s got perfect disposition and the cutest little body.  Everyone wants to hold her.

Her mother dressed baby up as “Old Man Syd.”  We laughed and laughed.  I’m sorry, Sydnie!

This is the first year I’ve done anything with food for Halloween.  Puffed pastry on top of a casserole.  I snuck in sweet potato and parsnips and didn’t tell the kids until after they ate it (insert wicked laugh here.)  They said, That’s what that gross taste was.  Sure.

Jello brain compliments of Grandma Heather.

If there is anyone you want to visit you for Halloween, it’s these two.  Even though Allison is only 5 1/2 weeks out from a C-section, and has not completely healed yet, she still came with a costume!  She’s a Wall Street protester.  And then there’s my mother, master of the witch costume.

Grandma Witch, Bumble-Bee Princess, Kung-Fu Master, Mulan, Princess Paige borrowing Allison’s wig.  She got sick of it after five minutes so I put it on.  You would not believe the amount of compliments I got from that purple and black striped wig!  Maybe I should start wearing one.  Then I wouldn’t have to do my hair.  Dreamy.

Little Mulan
It was a cold and snowy Halloween night.  The girls went home after one street as the older ones persevered down Lawrence Street to see all their friendlies.  I love Halloween.  I love the feeling of dressing up, going out into the dark with other trick-or-treaters, laughing at each other, crunching through leaves (and snow), being scared, raiding the kid’s buckets (this year I’m digging the Almond Joy), and falling into bed content.  Hope you got scared too – Boo!

4th of July!

After two years away, we were happy to be in Andover for the Fourth of July.  Our cute little town of 2000 attracts thousands for its famous patriotic party.  The day started early; Cope, Nelson and I left the house at 7:30 to set up our junk yard sale on the green, along with half the town.  I have to admit, bargaining for great items is one of my favorite parts of the day!  The kids sold everything for $1 – mostly movies we needed to clean out.  As soon as they made some money they sprinted across the lawns to buy more junk toys!  Nelson scored with nerf guns and the girls each got a new barbie.  A good day for all.
While Cope manned the yard sale, Nelson and I ran the 5k firecracker and then got ready for the big parade.

The town wanted to thank Proctor for its town contribution, so through default, Gregor ended up as the parade’s Grand Marshal!  He’s on the other side of the carriage so you can’t see him, but he got to wave and ride in this fancy ride.  Unfortunately, that is not him in the Uncle Sam outfit either, nor was there any top-hat or twirling batons.  He did say that the carriage is a most romanticized way of travel – he wouldn’t want to travel across the country this way.  But we had lots of fun yelling his name and teasing him.  Good work, Mr. Grand Marshal!

I love the Lion’s Club, the drummers, the bag-pipes, and flutists.

Of course Brynne and Paige’s favorite part of the parade was the candy thrown – they made out like it was Halloween!  Cope observed that now that she’s older, she doesn’t get as much candy thrown at her.  Ah, it’s hard to grow up.

The famous Andover one-wheelers!  I love this.
Nelson and his scout troop were in the parade.  Why can’t boys stop touching each other?  Poke, poke, hit, hit, kick, cry, poke, poke…
The scout and the marshal

Your scout shirt might attract the attention of a certain presidential candidate!  Yes, Mitt was in town for the celebration! “Did you ask him about the economy?” Gregor asked.  Nelson forgot.  
Governor Romney spoke for a few moments and mentioned he’d just finished Laura Hillenbrand’s book, Unbroken.  My ears perked up.  Forget healthcare, let’s talk books!  Thank you Chuck Will, for this photo.  I have a couple elbows and extra heads in the shot I tried to get.  Chuck writes more about this day at:  Chuck’s Corner
That funny car

Brynne meets up with old friends

Next we rushed off to Nelson’s boat race for scouts – The Raingutter Regatta!

The beautiful Blackwater

Blow Nelson!  He didn’t win the race, but had a good time.  After the boat race we sped home to get ready for company, had a great bbq with friends from Pembroke and Franklin, then watched a great show of fireworks.  We all fell into bed exhausted, a bit sunburned, and happy.  We are a blessed nation.  I was happy to be reminded of it.  Happy birthday America!

Black Fly

The annual tradition continues…
It was hot and humid but we had fun.  Ben came in, then me, then Nelson with a 26min. time, then Copester, comin’ in strong.  She wasn’t happy with her time, but we were happy she ran!

Emily is ahead of me pushing the DOUBLE stroller.  She was also flanked by Annie and Brynne, the entire race, while battling the mosquitos and of course, the black flies.  She is super mama.  I came back for Annie as Paige wanted to run in with her cousin.

Nelson asked if he could run another race the next Saturday!  The bouncy house in the back was a huge hit for parents and kids.

This girl cried when she was put into a stroller instead of getting to run.  But with the help of a medal and Cheetos, she survived.

The raffles were awesome this year!  Nelson won a kayak rental and I won this great bag of goodies – lotion, body wash, fudge, a notebook, soap, a hook, and African earrings to wear with my African clothes!  Daddy won fudge for pushing Paige and Mychal Reynolds.  Mmmmm.

So happy the Castleton cousins came to be with us.  Nelson, Dennison, and baby Brigham who is suddenly a 3 year old little boy!

Eight kids proved to be quite entertaining…

After the race Cope went horse back riding for a birthday party…hard life, huh?

The 80+ degree weather pushed us right into Highland Lake.  Whew.

Fabulous weather, beautiful water, and cousins who all got along.  We’re already planning the next rendezvous.

Ben gives Nelson some excitement.

Cousins wrestling like wild puppies in the water.  Nelson still can’t stand to go under water without his giant goggles.  We all got sunburned.  I had to get this shot b/c of that Yolo surfboard in the background.  I know that faculty member on it!  Maybe I should tell him he’s on my blog 🙂
The day ended with a quick bbq and then off to the Wilmot parade where Cope played with her middle school marching band.  They marched down the street and ended up at a war memorial.  Guns were fired, taps was played, followed by the bagpipes.  It was probably my favorite part of the day and made me pause for just a moment…we have so much.