Monthly Archives: September 2013

Apples and soup

I’m starting to mourn the loss of summer. It’s my favorite season – being outside, never being cold, swimming, sunning, the beach. I love it all.

And while I’m already missing summertime, I’m trying to embrace the movement into fall. I do love a good backyard fire in jeans and a sweatshirt, but we’re not there yet. So until we are, I’m going to attempt to ease myself out of my summer bliss by doing traditional fall activities.

Like going to the apple orchard. Shhh… today is actually the first time we’ve picked apples at the orchard. We’ve visited many times, but have never actually picked apples until today. And we really had a great time. We met some friends at Anderson Orchard and then all piled into a minivan (3 adults, 6 kids and 2 infants!) to drive back into the hundreds of rows of apple trees.

It was beautiful. The weather, the scenery, the people. But I have to say, my favorite part of the morning was snuggling with Isaac…

IMG_5498 (1280x960)

I had him in the sling so we could get in and out of the car and pick apples easily…IMG_5499 (1280x960)

And he was totally loving the extra time with me while the girls and Lucas ran off with the other kids…IMG_5500 (1280x960)

So I snapped some picks during our last stop…IMG_5501 (1280x960)

And I have to say, looking at these pictures this afternoon warmed my soul just like warm apple cider does on a fall evening. So maybe fall isn’t so bad after all…

The other thing I did was make soup. I *LOVE* soup and this cooler weather was just calling for me to make one of my favorites. It’s so hearty and healthy and warms up great the next day for leftovers. Since it’s so simple I thought I’d share (because I’m all about finding new easy recipes that taste good myself). I altered a Betty Crocker’s recipe I found years ago. (It’s also SUPER easy to just brown the ground beef and then throw it all in a crock pot for the afternoon.)

Beef & Barley Stew

Beef & Barley Stew


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2/3 cup uncooked barley
  • 2 tsp fresh or 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 can (~15 oz) stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 package (~10 oz) frozen mixed vegetables


  1. Brown the ground beef, onion and garlic and drain.
  2. Combine the ground beef with all remaining ingredients in a dutch oven or similar stock pot.
  3. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until barley is done.

I actually leave out the onion when I make it just for my family because my husband despises onions, but I love it and think it adds great flavor to this soup. And sometimes when I’m in a hurry, I use Trader Joe’s 10 minute barley so you can have this stew made in 20 minutes if needed.

I hope you take some time to enjoy the beginning of fall. Because soon, winter is going to be here and IT’S GOING TO SUCK.

Ahem, excuse me.

Roller coaster

So I’m feeling a bit crazy these days. Like, that I can’t decide if I’m up or down. Whether I’m grounded or overwhelmed. Whether I’m young or old.

What I do know is that somehow my girls are old enough to ride their bikes to school…First bike ride to school


And these boys are taking baths together.Bath time


I mean, Isaac will be FIVE MONTHS OLD next week and he gets to start eating cereal! Wasn’t he just born?!

Having this huge range of kids, ranging from an 11 year old middle schooler down to an almost 5 month old who is still getting up 1-2x a night, is kind of crazy. Add in work, making dinner, cleaning and laundry on top of homework and caring for a toddler and infant and sometimes it’s just too much. It’s kind of kicking my butt right now.

I say kind of, because I’m still here, treading water, keeping my head up. I bought new running shoes last week. I haven’t used them yet. I bought chocolate milk, hoping it would push me back into running. It didn’t.

I’m just tired. And frankly, probably a bit lazy.

This roller coaster of life I’m on right now has me going up and down and fast and slow and it’s like I got on the ride and the bar that holds you in won’t release so you can’t get out and so once you think the ride is over and you finally take a breath, it starts right back up again. Like “HA! Not so fast sucker! Stay put! One more ride is in your future!” But then that “one more ride” turns into 80 more rides.

And it’s just Wednesday.

Here’s the thing: I like roller coasters. So while I’m up and down and grounded and overwhelmed and I want to jump off this ride as fast as I can, I try to remind myself that some day I’ll miss this time of my life. And I’ll long for the days when this face is what brightens my grey days.Isaac

Drool and all.

the finish line

Remember when I was going to run a race?

Well, I did it! And I have photographic evidence to prove it.


What it also proves is that your 11 year old needs photography lessons, starting with “don’t cut off a foot” and “your subject is more important than scenery in this moment.” You should have seen this picture before I edited it. 🙂 (Unfortunately I don’t know how to add the rest of my foot in my free editing software. That must be in the upgrade.)

My goal was to run the 5k in 36 minutes. Well, I failed. At least officially. The race was a timed finish, but not a timed start, so I finished in under 39 minutes, but I wasn’t near the front and I don’t know how long it took me to get there. So I’ll say I finished in 37:30. I should just say I finished in 36, right? 🙂

I knew I didn’t want to take off too fast, so I started slowly, with my friend taking off in front of me even though she lied and said she was slow like me. (Just kidding Renate! Kind of.) And I decided that “slow and steady” would help me run the whole thing and get to the finish line as close to my goal as possible. Plus, it was HOT and I didn’t want that to kill me.

Well, slow and steady I ran. SLOW. And STEADY. But half way through, my knee, which I hadn’t had any problems with in my training, started bothering me and so I started taking short walking breaks when the pain started to get to me. I’d walk until it didn’t hurt anymore and then I’d run until it got too painful. Thankfully, I was able to keep this up and ended up still getting close to my goal. I am certain that if I would have run the whole distance that I would have beat my goal, even in the heat.

And when I got to the finish line, I felt really great. Except that I almost peed my pants right when I stopped running and relaxed a bit right after the finish line. (Okay, so in all honesty, maybe “almost” isn’t quite accurate. I’ve birthed 4 kids. Lay off.)

The thing is, they only had water and some sports drink to refuel. And it totally left me bummed out. It just wasn’t the same and left me wanting more. So I came home to a tall glass of chocolate milk to help my body recoup. And that it did. My knee pain was gone by the afternoon and I felt great, even though I ran a mile farther than I had run in my training and did so in the hot hot sun.

What did I learn from my first race back? First, that I could do it. That I can run a race and make it to the finish line. And to have confidence in myself that I’ll reach my time goal in my next race. (Which has been decreased to 35 minutes, I’ll add.) I also learned that I need new running shoes. Holy cow did my feet hurt afterwards! back

So onward I run, hoping more people see the back of me at my next race in three weeks than in my first.


Refuel Runner AmbassadorDisclosure: This is a sponsored post. I am working with Indiana Dairy and their Refuel Runner Ambassador Program. I’m super excited to be part of the program and to share with you my opinions and experiences. Of course, those opinions and experiences are all my own. Now go refuel with chocolate milk.


My friend Katy’s two month old daughter Shaundi died unexpectedly yesterday. Her pain? I can only imagine.

It’s consuming almost every thought of mine, from the moment I read her words “Please, please pray like you’ve never prayed before” on Tuesday night.

I can’t stop praying for Katy.

I can’t stop cringing every time I lay Isaac down to sleep, praying he’ll wake up.

I can’t stop feeling this horrible sickness in my stomach, chest and throat.

I can’t stop crying for her family.

I can’t stop any of this. I can’t bring Shaundi back.

A dear friend texted me this morning. I had shared all of this with her last night and she was praying for me and for Katy and she wanted to share with me part of her devotional from “Jesus Calling.” I wanted to share it with you as well, because even though I don’t understand why things like this happen, I know there’s only one way through it:

“I am your Best Friend, as well as your King. Walk hand in hand with Me through your life. Together we will face whatever each day brings: pleasures, hardships, adventures, disappointments. I can bring beauty out of the ashes of lost dreams. I can glean Joy out of sorrow, Peace out of adversity.”

Sometimes really crappy things happen. Friends get cancer. Babies die. I won’t pretend to understand any of it, because I don’t. I won’t pretend that it’s right, because it’s wrong. I won’t pretend that I don’t doubt my God, because it wouldn’t be true. But I have to believe that there is redemption somewhere in it. Because if I don’t believe, there is no hope.

And right now, in this very moment, I will rejoice that Isaac is already awake from a very short nap, rather than be annoyed. Because he is AWAKE. And ALIVE. And I will be thankful.


If you’d like to help Katy’s family financially, please click on the “Love for Shaundi” ad to the right and donate there.