Our Family Unit
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  • July5th

    A few months ago, when my mom and I realized that we’d be in Colorado over Kade’s birthday, she volunteered to host his party.  Kade has a huge collection of John Deere tractors, just like Grandpa Dan’s; and so we thought a John Deere Tractor Party would be a great idea, especially Kade.  In fact, after we talked about it, the only thing this boy wanted to do for his birthday was drive a tractor and eat a tractor cake – so I started planning…


    The first thing I did, of course, was head straight over to Pinterest and search for “tractor party”.  So many fun ideas!  Kyle helped me pick a cake to try and we eventually realized that we must have expensive taste because our two favorites were done by professionals, something I am not.  But I gave it my best shot.

    I baked 2 box cakes in 4 loaf pans, layered 2 of them for the bottom of the tractor and cut 1 in half and stacked it for the tractor cab.  (We just snacked on the remaining loaf.)  After crumb coating the cake with buttercream frosting, I covered it in fondant and used royal icing to hold the different fondant pieces together.  This was my first time ever using fondant, so I had no idea what I was doing but it worked OK, thanks to lots of YouTube instructions.  The tires were chocolate donuts that I covered in fondant and I cut out chevrons and attached them to the tires for tread.  The “field” was made of Oreo crumbs and my dearest sister had the patience to cut out the words and the deer.  (Thank you, Sister!  They truly “made” the cake!)

    Once I knew what I wanted to do with the cake, I started thinking about the invitations, decorations and setting the scene for the party.  The invite idea was also from Pinterest.  I combined a few things from the ones I liked and then designed my own on the Silhouette.

    Then I repeated the tractor shape for the birthday pennant banner and food labels, all made out of scrapbook paper.


    For the menu, we served Sloppy Joes, Chips & Guacamole (yellow & green), hay bales (rice krispy cookies), sunflower seeds and the best Sweet & Salty Popcorn Balls you will eat in your entire life.  The “fuel” sign for the lemonade and “implement” sign for the silverware was another Pinterest idea.


    We ended up bringing Kade’s tractor collection to Colorado and Kyle and I gave him the barn as his gift.  It’s a Schleich Big Red Barn and we’re super impressed with how well made and sturdy it is. Kade loves it.

    After the feast, it was finally time for Tractor Cake and Ice Cream.

    To top off the evening, Grandpa Dan and Marmie took him out for the long awaited tractor ride.  He was ecstatic!


    This was the first birthday party with cousins!  We were so thankful to spend the day surrounded my so much family.  Not only did family attend and celebrate with us, but many of them worked their tails off helping me get ready for the party, doing the decorations and prepping/making the food.  They even tolerated my obsession with a 3D tractor cake!!  I could not have done this party without them!  Thank you so much, to everyone that came.  It made our day!

    It was a wonderful day, celebrating a wonderful boy.  My very own expressive, opinionated, passionate, out-going four-year-old!

    Thank you, God, for giving me this amazing little person, thank you for four incredible years and thank you for tractors.

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  • June27th


    When I announced that we were expecting #3, I got a few questions as to where I got / how I made the “Thing” shirts.  I made mine with my Silhouette and they were actually super easy, so I wanted to put up a quick tutorial in case you’re up for a little DIY project.

    Step 1 – Buy some t-shirts.  I just went for cheap ones, since I knew the kids would grow out of them quickly, and my desire for walking around in public with a “Thing 3″ on my stomach is about nil.

    Step 2 – Track down some blank stencil sheets.  I got mine at Michaels, but they were similar to these.

    Step 3 – Create your design in Silhouette Studio and then let it do the work of cutting your stencil.

    Step 4 – Once your stencils are made, tape them to your shirt and color in with fabric markers or paint.

    At first, I thought about just leaving it with the word and number but eventually decided to also trace around the circle to give a simple border and draw more attention to the design.

    Step 5 – Depending on what you chose to color in the stencil with, you may need to heat set it with a hot iron.  

    And Voila! your t-shirt is done…in approximately 30 minutes.  This type of project is obviously not limited to pregnancy announcements, but when you look at the cost of those cute “Big Brother/Sister” shirts (I know, because we bought one for Kade when I was pregnant with Berlin), this is a nice little alternative.

    Speaking of all this pregnancy stuff…we have an update on this one.  We’re having a BOY!  We are beyond excited about it!  We’ve nicknamed this little guy K2 and are now in the process of narrowing down “K” names, in keeping with the tradition that boys are named with “Ks”.  Kade is thrilled about the whole thing and will often give me a hug around my neck and then another one around my belly (as far as he can reach).  Then he’s always quick to explain that the second hug wasn’t for me, it was for the baby.  Berlin, who adores all babies, I know will love this new one; but for the moment her preoccupation with my belly is to try to kick it as much as possible while I get her in and out of the high chair.  K2 may sense this, because he likes to kick back.  :)  We just had our anatomy ultrasound this week and all went well.  We know he’s for sure one of ours because he wouldn’t hold still for a picture and his legs measured almost 2 weeks further along than the rest of his body.  No doubt my genes will be long lost again.  :)  I can’t say that I care too much about genes, I’m just anxious to meet him and get to know him.  We are so grateful for God’s gifts and feel so blessed that He is entrusting us with another precious little soul.

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  • June25th

    I mentioned on Father’s Day we picked up some new plants for the backyard.  My goal this last year was to keep 80% of my plants alive.  I think the first year we lived here, I lost all but one.  The next year I managed to keep around 25%.  (Can you tell how green my thumb is?)  I felt like I was really setting the bar high to attempt 80%.


    I tell myself that I succeeded, but in reality, IF I did, it was by the skin of teeth.  The two plants above right had to be brought back from the dead twice!  But I have managed to keep both of them producing flowers.  The strawberry pot was a complete failure though, and I finally gave up trying to convince myself that those blue flowers around it weren’t weeds.


    For some reason, I really like the purple and green combination.  Kyle’s not a huge fan of purple and tried to talk me into some variety this year.  I gave in (I think) and included some white.  :)  My Grandpa Jake was a wonderful gardener and every spring always planted hundreds of flowers.  He never forgot to include Petunias, so I got some this year because they reminded me of him.

    We really really love our backyard.  Since the weather is usually pretty nice here, it often ends up being another room of the house.  After getting the new plants potted, we did a little rearranging of things and moved most of the kids stuff over by the lawn.

    They seem to love it (I’m pretty sure because it gives them more access to mud) and I love it because I feel like I have a grown up space and it reminds the kids that they have a huge lawn to play on.

    I really love how it turned out, but I think I need to recover the throw pillows with some new fabric.  Something with a little purple to bring it all together and add a little bit more color.

    Let us know if you wanna come over for a grill out under the stars and our Target lights (love them, btw!).  We’ll even make s’mores over the fire, with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, of course.  Hershey’s is so yesterday.  :)  Who knows, maybe I can even lower my plant mortality rate to 15% next year!  Then again, I’m going on vacation next week to Colorado…better scratch that.

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  • June19th

    Happy Belated Father’s Day!  Hope everyone had a good weekend.  Ours was nice.  We didn’t really do much and I think that was the best thing for us.  Kyle’s been working some really long hours lately and so we just decided to relax and soak up every minute with him that we could.  We did make an unscheduled stop at Lowe’s though, due to cleaning out the glove compartment and finding a couple old gift cards.  I’ll show the revival of the backyard once I finish potting the new plants.

    For Kyle’s Father’s Day gift, the kids picked out cards and I caught up on a “tradition” that I had skipped last year.


    For Kyle’s first Father’s Day, I started a scrapbook album for him and my goal is to continue adding a little to it every year.


    Like I said, last summer I dropped the ball, but this year I finally got it updated.  It’s mostly just filled with pictures of him and his kids, a hand print here and there, and little scraps of scrapbook paper.  The album is an 8×8; so easy to fill, with lots of focus on the pictures rather than the layout, and super quick to do.  I give each year 3-4 pages and end each year with the date so we can at least try to keep track of who was what age when.

    The sentimental side of me is hoping this will be a great treasure down the road.

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