Wednesday, September 11, 2013

First Day of Kindergarten

My oldest baby started kindergarten on August 26th. She is going to ECDC at Notre Dame where she went to preschool last year.  It's every day but I feel fortunate to have a half day option so I pick her up at 11:45 before lunch.  I don't feel sad sending my baby off to school like most moms of kindergarteners but I think it's because she is going to the same place she went for preschool so it doesn't feel very different.  My hard year will probably be next year when all the other moms are already used to their kids going to a real big kid school all day.

Her room is right next to her old 4/5s class from last year.  She often sees her teachers from last year and plays on the same playground as before.  It's nice that its so familiar for her.  Now the big question is where will she go next year and where will we find a house!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Drive In Movies

We took the kids to the drive in the weekend before Magnolia began school as a last of summer fun night.  Tip for taking kids to the drive in...go very early or very late in the season when the sun sets earlier and the movies begin earlier.  This year Disney's Planes and Smurfs 2 were showing.  Magnolia actually stayed awake for both features!  Dan can't even claim to have done that.  The kids liked the movie, Planes, and the younger two made it through the beginning of Smurfs before crashing.  We put the seats down in the back of the van, put down some blankets and sleeping bags, opened up the trunk and layed in the back to watch the movies and enjoy some popcorn and candy.  As far as outings go, this one was a success.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chicago Trip

Once a summer, the Hamacher crew heads up to visit Ty in Chicago for the day.  This year we made it up there for lunch and hung around millennium park for awhile checking out the water feature/splash pad and the bean thing.  Then we walked over to the Magnolia Bakery for cupcakes since it was the day before my birthday.  So yummy.  So rich.  So sweet.  After we got our sugar high we hiked over to Navy Pier which surprisingly none of us had ever been to.  Soon enough it was time to head home.  Seemed like a super quick visit and we decided next time we would have to figure out a way to stay longer.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Peach Picking

August and peach picking go hand-in-hand so we headed up to our favorite picking orchard, Tree Mendus Fruit and brought home 93 lbs of peaches.  That is 50 lbs more than we picked last year.  Over the past year we gobbled up those 43 lbs we canned and wished we had more so this year we were on a mission to fill our pantry with quarts and quarts of the golden fruit.

Peach picking seemed to be the perfect fit for our family.  All 5, yes I said 5, of us added peaches to the buckets.  Even the little man contributed somehow, and added to our bounty.  Even the weather was wonderful that day.  I'll tell you, we have lucked out with amazing fruit harvesting weather this summer.  Swimming pool weather, not so much, but low 70s with a breeze fruit picking weather, yes.

After bringing home our 93 lbs of peaches, we got to work canning them with my mom.  While the boys were busy causing trouble, actually my dad was probably asleep in front of the TV, but Henry was definitely causing trouble, the girls, my mom, and I were busy at work.  Boothe had the job of washing the peaches in the sink and even when we have eaten some of our canned ones recently, she has stated that they taste so good because she washed them so good.  And she means it.  My mom peeled, I pitted, and magnolia sliced up the halves. She was using a sharp knife for the first time and was incredibly proud.  She did great!

And now about 50 quarts later, we are hoping we have enough for the year.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Visitors from Colorado

Dan's brother, Pete, and his family came to South Bend for a visit a couple weeks ago.  It's fun because all of the girls are pretty close in age and then there is Henry trailing behind.  We hadn't seen them since they came for a visit last August.  Its interesting to see how all the kids have changed over the past year.  And it's always nice when cousins can spend time together and get to know each other.

I was helping to organize a baseball outing to a local Silver Hawks ball game for our church and it happened to be the Friday that Pete and the family were in town so the whole fam, all 11 of us headed to the Cove for the game.  The stadium has been renovated and greatly improved over the last couple of years and has become a wonderful outing for a family.  Friday night's game was actually sold out!  There is a splash pad and playground behind outfield, a bunch of blow up bounce houses and slides near the entrance, and of course the game.  We spent 3 hours there before the kids were ready to leave and I think Dan and I were more tired than the kids.  There are fireworks after the game that we were trying to stay for, but it was just getting too late so we had to miss.

So that was Friday night, Saturday we headed up to a farmers market in Michigan in the morning and out to dinner at Hacienda that night.  The time in between was spend visiting and playing at Dan's parents' house.  And then Sunday was spent together some more with some family pictures taken in the afternoon to round off the weekend.  I can't wait to see them.  I didn't take to many pictures of the weekend because I knew we were going to have some really great ones from the professional.  The last picture in this post is a preview from that session! :)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ballet Camp

Earlier this month, the girls did a week long dance camp at Southold called Princess stories.  It was nice dropping them off at 9:30 each morning and not having to pick them up for 2 hours, Henry and I could knock out some errands like it was nothing.  At the end of the week, the moms and dads could come watch their little performances.  Boothe was up first with the 3-5 year old group.  Magnolia followed afterwards with the 6-9 year olds.  There is something so sweet about little girls who think they are dancing like professional ballerinas.  I probably have just as much fun watching them perform as they do taking the dance lessons.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Every year we try a new thing or two when it comes to canning.  This year we are canning all kinds of different pie filling.  So far we have made Strawberry-Rhubarb, Cherry, and Blueberry.  I'd like to add Peach and Apple too if I have time.  The recipes we have used are really basic and simple and are below the picture if you want to try them out yourself.  The extra that didn't fit in a quart jar to be canned we have put on ice cream and it is wonderful.  I'm hoping to try some other things like crisps and cobblers with these cans of pie filling to see what works and what doesn't for next year.  I have 6-8 quart jars of each flavor so lots of filling to experiment with this winter.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Filling

4 cups rhubarb, chopped
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine rhubarb, strawberries and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and simmer as the fruit softens and the juices are released.  Stir often.
In a bowl, mix the sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon and pour the mixture into the hot saucepan.
Bring to a simmer and cook until the mixture has thickened.
Pour into hot, sterilized jars and water bath can for 30 minutes.

Cherry Pie Filling

4 cups pitted tart cherries
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch

  1. Place cherries into a saucepan over medium heat, and cover the pan; heat cherries until they release their juice and come to a simmer, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir often.
  2. In a bowl, mix the sugar with cornstarch and pour the mixture into the hot cherries and juice
  3. Return to low heat, bring to a simmer, and cook until the filling has thickened, about 2 minutes. 
  4. Pour into hot, sterilized quart jars and water bath can for 30 minutes.

Blueberry Pie Filling

10 cups blueberries
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup sugar
6 T cornstarch
5 T lemon juice

In a large stockpot bring the water, sugar, corn starch and lemon juice and to a boil.
Pour in the blueberries very carefully and bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring continuously with a long spoon. Keep stirring for about 5 minutes while the berries release their juices and the mixture thickens.
Pour into hot, sterilized quart jars and water bath can for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ohio Trip

It had been a couple of years since we had visited our family in Ohio and my cousin, Steve, was planning on coming in from LA for a couple weeks, so we decided it would be the perfect time to drive over for a long weekend.  Kathy, the kids, and I rode in one car while my mom, Brooke, and her kids were in another.  It took about 5 hours with stops.  We arrived at Julie's house late Thursday evening, spent 2 days visiting, and drove home after an early lunch on Sunday.  Dan was actually in another part of Ohio that same weekend for work so it was nice to get away and not have the kids all to myself for the weekend.

We all had a fun time seeing everyone and catching up.  Magnolia became a huge fan of Foosball.  Boothe enjoyed helping Brooke take care of Palmer.  And Henry tried to wrestle with Raife.  Maybe we will visit again next summer.  For now we will look forward to seeing the Ohio crew in Indiana this winter!

Thanks, Julie, for having us, chaos and all!  I remember when we used to visit years ago and it was you who had the 3 little ones running around...