Saturday, August 2, 2014

Happy Birthday Luke

 Luke turned 1 year old a couple months ago.  I am not embarrassed to say I cried the night before his 1st birthday.  They are so fun when the are little, cuddly and cannot yet talk. 

Here are some pictures.  

I think this is kind of funny.  I made him a huge carrot cake.  It was a double recipe, three layers and super rich.  Living overseas I felt like I had to ration my good cake making supplies, so I admit I went a little overboard.  We ate cake for a long time and still ended up giving some away.

Anyways,  I made Luke a little cake (I think they are called smash cakes) for him to destroy.  As I got it out of the refrigerator, I dropped it.  Not to let my son eat a cake with his name messed up, I got in the car, drove home, got more icing, drove back to my parent's house and fixed the cake.  Do you know what Luke did as soon as we put it in front of him (after the candle) he knocked it to the ground.  Wasted trip to fix the icing for sure.  Teaches me a lesson that I will still probably not learn from.

Like all 1 year olds who have never had cake, they sometimes do not know what to do with it.
He eventually got over it.  

However to everyone's great disappointment, this was as messy as he got.  No icing chest smears.  No cake on the face or super gooey hands.  He was tidy, but in the long run, I prefer tidy, so it works in my favor.  

Luke was given some cool new toys that are all his, like some trucks 

 and a new book.
However, his absolute favorite toy of the day was this bunny named Jackson from his Smith cousins.  It really was love at first sight.  I am serious.  He...


this bunny.

He even gave Jackson kisses.

Later we all went outside for a little bit of piñata time.  My kids have never seen or hit a piñata, but they  were crazy with excitement the day I bought it at Target.  It was also a good way to get rid of all that nasty non-chocolate Easter candy leftover in our pantry.  

Avril was a natural.  All the kids (except Luke) got a chance to whack at it, but was my own personal man arms that brought it to submission.

I attempted to document Luke for his final Bambi photo.  I have unfortunately missed a couple (three) months of photos with Luke.  Sorry dude.  The picture below is the absolute best one I could manage because he will not stay still.  So - 

Luke 12 months 

Luke 3 days (doesn't even look like the same baby)

Happy Birthday Luke!  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Grumpy's Ranch

My parents own a 40-something acre ranch/deer hunting place about an hour and a half from Belton.  It is totally and completely away from everything.  If you need to get away from cell phones, noise, light pollution or any other kind of pollution for that matter, this is the place.  It has become my parent's little get-away, and they cannot go long without heading to the ranch.  I totally get it.  It is peaceful, and the sunsets cannot be beat.  It also can only be accessed by vehicles with a truck chaise (if that is how it is spelled), so our '97 Lincoln has yet to make the trip out.  

If you look at the first picture below you will see three buildings.  I believe the center and left building came with the land when my parents bought it.  The center building holds a bunk bed, couch, table, sink, refrigerator, hotplate, a window AC unit and lots of strange deer "art" (paintings of deer, charcoal drawings and a diagram of the cuts of deer meat) - they came with the building.  The left building is a storage shed, toilet closet and a unity sink for cleaning up after chopping up all those deer.    This building also has unique deer art.  Between the two building is an outdoor shower, not that anyone uses it anytime other than the summer, it does not have a hot water heater.  The building on the right is a new addition that holds, I think, 3 bunk beds. The porch is also new.  It and the bunk room were built by my dad's two best friends who are quite skilled at building things.  

My dad's ranch has 6 rain water collection tanks so they can bathe, wash hands, flush the toilet and have water to train deer to rely on...conveniently close to their deer stands.  

Have I ever mentioned my traumatic childhood experience of when my dad brought home a dead deer and strung it up from a tree in our back yard so it could drain?  Guess who swore off of deer meat that day?  Guess who's family has tried to sneak it into food ever since?

Basically we did what one does at a secluded ranch when not in deer season.  We built a nice fire, roasted hotdogs and smores - it was awesome.  We put the kids down (not quite successfully) and played card games until we were ready to go to sleep.  It was just what we wanted.  

Just let me put one more in of him : )

Also, I turned the dial on my trusty Rebel T5 (or is it 3) to the flower setting and took pictures of bluebonnets.  It has been 7 years since I have seen them in person, and I wanted some pictures to remind me of Texas next time I have been away from home for too long.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fun Outside

We looooooove being outside in Texas.  Do you see the blue sky in the background in the picture below?  For our first couple months here, it was a normal for us to have a daily conversation about the sky…about the blueness of the sky, the big puffy clouds, the way the rays of sunlight break through the  big puffy clouds, all of it was equally fun for us to talk about.

Belton has a lake, dam and a spillway.  Although the spillway was not open, we took the kids out to see it.  

Check out the digression of my DB when we told him to smile for the camera.

Unhappy stare and slight frown.  These pictures still make me laugh.

AB is not quite hamming it up, but man, DB is trying so hard to smile despite his impending tears. 

Nope, not working at all.  Just losing it.  

After getting it all out he was ready to give me a good one : )

See AB and DB run.

See AB totally fall.

Our pretty lake and perfect sunset.

I do not know if they have ever seen the sun set into the horizon.  This is a nice lookout point that our kids enjoyed…as well as teenage couples who like to stargaze a night and 

ask their girlfriends to prom.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fun with the Kids in the Snow

So way back when we were still overseas it snowed.  I took the older two outside to have a little fun.  Honestly if one of us had not taken them out to play in it, I am almost certain there would have been a coup and they might have taken over the decision making in our home.  It really was in the interest of maintaining our position as parents : )

Although pretty, the snow was not all that thick they certainly had their hearts set on building a snowman.  Therefore we built a mini.  

Because it was a mini we picked it up and hid it behind some bushes so it would not melt in the sun and  so the kids could bring daddy out to see it a bit later.  However, the neighborhood kids apparently thought it was fit for everyone to see because when the AB and DB took daddy out to see it, it had been moved to a more prominent position so everyone could enjoy our masterpiece of a mini snowman.  

My funny kids.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Way back in January my first and second born had their 5th and 3rd birthdays.  

When AB told me she wanted a "Tangled" cake, the "can-do" part of me accepted the challenge.  The perfectionist side of me knew I would work until I got it right, but the realistic side of calculated the hours of work and the loss of my sanity to achieve a cake I would be satisfied with.  Ultimately the realistic side won and AB got another swirls and dots cake.  Apparently I went a bit berserk-o and went a little overboard on the dots.  Eventually I just tried to embrace it and went for crazy.   

I also made a cake to take to AB's school.  Since baking is not part of most East Asian people's cooking skills, they were super impressed with my decorating.  However I was told by more than one person that it was too sweet.  This is a totally normal comment about western baking and since it was from a box, it did not bother me, and they still ate it too sweet and all.

DB also had a birthday.  He wanted a Buzz Lightyear cake.  Basically I once again processed how long it would take me to make a cake like that, and look, Luke was still waking to eat at night…I needed my sleep and I just did not want to sacrifice an entire night of sleep to ice a Buzz Lightyear cake  - because that is exactly how long it would have taken me, all night.  Maybe while in the US I should take a cake decorating course so I can learn how to do these things in less time.

Anyways, I basically wrote his name and tried to make it look "spacey."

He liked it.  I think kids like almost anything that has their name written in icing on it.