First Baby Shower

This past weekend I headed to my hometown of Ottumwa, Iowa to see some friends and family and celebrate the upcoming arrival of Baby Forristall.  My amazing little sister, Rachael, planned this incredible shower for the occasion.  She chose this adorable bed and breakfast for the location and it was perfect.  I felt blessed that so many members of my extended family came, along with many close friends.  Lots of ladies traveled to make the event, and it meant so much to me to have them all there.  
My godson, Cooper, was the star of the show and helped me open all of Baby Forristall's gifts.  He was such a ham and was throwing tissue paper here, there, and everywhere.  (He missed his nap that day.)  He was a tired little guy after it was all said and done with; his mom sent me a photo of him in the car on the way home and he was zonked!  Thanks to everyone who made the day special!  
shamica, mom, rach
summer and rogan
jasmine and baby benson
my aunt joy
randi, shelby, baby scarlet
the keith girls
tissue paper here, there, everywhere!
notice the tissue paper...love him!
paige and anne
grandma hasley
thanks to these ladies for making the trip from dubuque!
my amazing sister and mom


Photo of the Day: 30 weeks

Today I am 30 weeks pregnant.  Yes, 30...wow.  I can't believe how time has flown; it's been quite the change since the first trimester.  I remember Kevin and I impatiently waiting for the hours and days to tick by until we were safely in the second trimester and could tell the world.  Now we are in the third trimester waiting for our little Jedi (ha) to make his appearance.  Can't wait to love on him from the outside!

Summertime Learnings

Things on the farm have gone smoothly this summer despite the dry soil and brown grass.  We haven't had much rain on the Trail these past two months (little to none) and I am sooo ready for a rainy day.  The cooler days are refreshing, but a nice, 'curl up with a good book rainy day' would be even better.  
This dry summer has given me ample opportunity for learning experiences, but I still have a looooong way to go.  Here are some of my favorite and very simple learnings from this summer:
  • There are lots of bugs in the country, much more than in the city.  To have less bugs (notice I didn't say no bugs), you have to spray the little critters and/or have a bug catching dog like Abel.
  • In the country there are countless animals.  The city has lots of cats and dogs, I label these animals human friendly animals.  The country has lots of raccoons, mice, birds, possums, and bunnies.  You can decide if these are human friendly animals.  If you don't think these creatures are human friendly animals, they would argue with you. They like to be close to humans, or at least close to our homes, gardens, food, and garbage.
  • Gardening counts as a work out, kind of.
  • The country is peacefully quiet.  I bask in the quietness of the farm at night, except when Abel is barking at some unknown animal, bug, stick, or leaf somewhere.  
  • It takes a trained eye to know the difference between a weed and a flower.  I have picked many flowers and left many weeds.  This learning is still a work in progress.
  • Dogs like really smelly things.  
  • Plants grow really well when they have an appropriate amount of water.  They turn brown and ugly when they don't get enough of the wet stuff.  Some of the garden beds look great and some not so great...the power of water.
  • Wearing flip flops outside in the midst of a drought will warrant a good foot washing or shower.  It is dusty in the country!  Tennis shoes are better.
  • Country air smells so clean and fresh; a windows open kind of night is the best night.
  • Summertime in the country is magical; from the burnt sunrises to the peaceful, starry nights....I love it!
a random farm in the country that almost got rain, but not quite
Football games will be starting soon, which means fall will be upon us and summer gone for another year.  I learned a lot on the Trail this summer and I know there will be plenty more opportunities for learning as we move into the fall season on the farm.  I'm anxiously awaiting more windows open kind of nights!


Grape Harvest

The past two weekends Kevin's parents have been picking grapes.  The grapes are ready a little early this year, like everything else, and they were happy to have some nice, cool weather in order to get it done.
Last weekend the kiddos helped pick grapes on Saturday morning and they were so intrigued with it.  They loved sampling the grapes.  They loved Diane showing them how to spit out the seeds.  They loved getting to cut down the clusters and piling them in their buckets.  Landon was especially excited he got to use some 'pointy' clippers.  And they loved being able to tell everyone that they helped pick grapes.

so proud!

sampling some grapes from diane

the busy helpers


Photo of the Day

Today is the first day of school for many teachers and kiddos out there.  They are putting away school supplies, learning the rules, reading some back to school books and meeting and learning about the friends they will spend the next 9 months with.  I am not at school today enjoying all those firsts of the new school year.  I have been on the farm all day, thinking about those teachers and kiddos and missing the first day of school just the teensiest bit.  I feel blessed to have the opportunity to stay home with our little guy that is due to arrive in a little less than 12 weeks, but today I am a little sad that I don't get those 1st grade hugs.  Here is a picture of me sporting my old Franklin t-shirt, which is where I used to teach.


Life on the trail: from the mouths of babes

"Sessa, I like this place better than your other place in Ooomaha."  (I am Sessa.)  Oh yea, why is that, Landon?  "Well, it only takes us 5 minutes to get to the Quarry.  That's wayy shorter than last year.  Plus, we can swim in the hot tub when we get back."  Really, well, I'm glad you like it.
I think it's safe to say that the kiddos like the farm.  They came for their annual summer vacation last week and they got to experience Life on the Trail for almost 3 days.  We spent most of our time swimming at the Quarry, 'swimming' in the hot tub, and exploring the farm with Abel.  The kids didn't have any screen time (i.e. t.v., computer, video games, etc.) during their little vacation and although it was hard at times, they were quite proud of their accomplishment and we were, too.
These three little munchkins made me smile and laugh countless times and reminded me of what we have to look forward to on a daily basis with Baby Forristall making his arrival in about 12 weeks.  Some of my favorite quotes from the kiddos:
"I've got my eyes on you." -Xavier as he is pointing two fingers from his eyes to Kevin
"Sessa, I want Mitt Romney to be our President." -Landon saying this randomly while eating pancake people on Saturday morning.
"Here is a penny for your baby." -Xavier giving me a penny to put in Baby Forristall's piggy bank as soon as they got to the farm.  (Seriously, how sweet!)
"Is your baby sleeping?" -This was asked constantly by Mae, Xavier, and Landon because if he wasn't asleep that meant they got to feel him kick.
"Sessa, I'm starrrvving.  This book is making me hungry." -After reading Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Landon and Xavier insisted they needed to eat even though we just had dinner and ice cream.
"Ewww...that's sick." -Xavier said this as he came into the living room and Kevin was touching my belly and giving me a kiss.  "No it's not, it's romantic." -Landon coming in behind him with a big smile on his face.
"Sessa, you make the best eggs and bacon ever." -This is probably my favorite because Kevin is the 'egg maker' in our house and he is pretty darn good at it.  Landon, Mae, and Xavier made my day by declaring that I make the best eggs.  Also, the bacon was microwavable...

Here are some of my favorite pictures from their vacation:

landon, mae, and xavier making a fort in the basement
how sweet are they?!
xavier and landon having cousin talk

the three munchkins


Photo of the Day

This week we have our niece and nephews for a few days and I wanted to share a pic that I took tonight.  We are trying to see if it can be a t.v. free vacation.  So far we have logged 0 hours of cartoons; we'll see how tomorrow goes.  Our entertainment tonight after quarry swimming and hot tubbing was...you guessed it, picking weeds.  They were actually loving it (for the first half hour) and it was quite funny to watch them use their little muscles to get those BIG weeds.  Their efforts are seen below.

Raspberry Lemon Cake

Kevin saw this recipe in a Sunset magazine and insisted I try it.  Kevin isn't really a 'dessert eater', so when he wanted me to make a cake, I jumped at the chance.  Usually me making a dessert results in me eating ALL the dessert.  Not in this case, thank goodness.  I think Baby Boy Forristall would have had a sugar overload.  I split the recipe into two pans, so Kevin was able to share it with some co-workers.  The recipe is below:

Raspberry Lemon Cake

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups white sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup skim milk
1/4 cup lemon curd (can be found by the jams and jellies)
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
18 oz. raspberries (gently rinse right before starting this recipe)
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 pan.  (I used a 5x9 inch loaf pan and a 8x8 inch cake pan.)  Using a mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, salt, vanilla, yogurt, milk, and lemon curd until blended.

Add in flour, baking soda, and baking powder to mixture and beat until smooth.  
Pour half the batter in the greased pan.  Place raspberries randomly on batter.  Gently pour the rest of the batter on top.  Scatter the remaining raspberries on top of the batter.

Bake about 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for an hour and then dust with powdered sugar.  

This cake was so moist and tasty...and easy.  I love easy.  I will definitely be making it again!  Enjoy!


Doing nothing

Kevin and I just returned home from an amazing week of doing nothing.  We spent a week in Cozumel, Mexico trying to perfect the art of doing nothing, well as close to doing nothing as we possibly could.  Kevin's family accompanied us for the first four days of the vacation.  They were a little more ambitious than us and went scuba diving almost everyday and saw some beautiful fish and coral.  Kevin and I aren't certified, so we stuck to the beach and a little snorkeling here and there.
This trip was our second time to Cozumel and instead of staying at a resort, we opted for Hippie Bob's condo, which Hillary brilliantly found.  It fit our needs perfectly; we especially loved the view from our balcony and the beach.  

Our typical day looked something like this: Whenever we woke up (not ever before 7) we would crawl out of bed and eat breakfast while gazing at the ocean.  After being sufficiently gazed out, we would spray on some sunscreen, put on our suits, and head down to the pool or beach to gaze some more, this time on the ground level.  We read and lounged in the pool most of the day under the shade of a palm tree or umbrella and some days we would head out for a snorkeling adventure.  

My favorite snorkeling adventure was swimming right up to two dolphins that were in a park next door to our condo.  They were breathtaking and so...huge.  There were also some pretty large fish around the dolphins and Kevin had to coax me into swimming closer to get a better look.  After being exhausted from doing nothing all day, we would head up to the condo to lay on the hammock to gaze, read, or nap.  This was, without a doubt, my favorite part of the day.  I loved the hammock.  I want a hammock.  Everyone should have a hammock.  They are perfect for doing nothing.  

Moving on...When the sun would start to set, we would peel ourselves out of the hammock and get ready for dinner.

We were able to get our fill of seafood and Mexican dishes and enjoyed some pretty tasty meals.

When Kevin's family was there, we would end the night with cards, drinks (for the others) and VH1 classic.  
We thoroughly enjoyed doing nothing on our vacation, but it feels so good to be back and to be productive again.  It was exactly what we needed before our life gets a little more exciting and a little more hectic with our family of two turning into a family of three in just a few short months.

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