Jeremy had just taken the girls out for their daddy/daughter date night, and I had just settled deep into my favorite ugly upholstered rocking chair (some day, I'll post of picture of it) to catch up on my blog reading before soaking in the garden tub and then taking my new library book to bed with me when the doorbell rang.

Good thing I'm not already in the tub, I thought to myself. A teen girl who I have never seen before stood on my front porch. "Hi," she greeted me cheerily but a bit nervously. "We just found a snapping turtle at the pond, and my dad said to come tell you guys so your girls could come out and see it. He said they get really excited about turtles and things like that."

Yeah, really excited is a major understatement, but I let it pass as I thanked her and explained that they were out on a date tonight. I closed the front door, and then ran to the back door to look out at the pond. Who is this person who goes out of his way to spread joy like this? The dad at the pond did not look familiar to me, but he was far away and not facing me at the time. His daughter joined them, and together they hauled a large snapper back to the pond.

You want to know something? I could share story after story of my neighbors (not just the ones next door and across the street but throughout our whole little subdivision). Stories that would make Norman Rockwell break down and cry his eyes out, but it boils down to this. THIS is why I love my neighborhood so much: We care about each other, not just in times of crisis, but also in times of fun, always looking to spread the love.
So I was driving down the road the other day, alone in the minivan, minding my own business, when a stern voice from the back calls out, "I'm warning you!"


Just then I hit another bump in the road, and the voice shouted out, "Hey!" in an accusatory manner. I recognized Shrek's tinny voice that time and grinned to myself. At the next bump the plastic McDonald's toy protested again, "Hey!" My amusement grew, but it wasn't until I crossed the railroad tracks and Shrek lost his temper shouting, "Alright! Cut it out!" that I couldn't keep my giggles to myself.

I've glanced around the floor of the van a few times since then and never spotted him, but he keeps us company on all our travels, constantly warning us about our reckless driving and protesting the potholes that we insist on bumping over. He's a very safe driver, himself. I've decided he must be wedged underneath a seat somewhere in order for every slightest bump to aggravate him so, and I have no intention of removing him from his predicament.

It's hard to find good entertainment these days.
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Well, so much for my promise to blog more often. Sorry you guys! I've realized now why I wasn't blogging as often before my promise. It's because I'm BUSY! By the time I get to the end of the day, I'm exhausted, and there's still plenty of things that need to be done besides blogging. Sigh.

I almost typed "Oh, for the simple days," but I realized I don't want to go back to the time when I had lots of time to blog. It was definitely fun and carefree, but I'd much rather be making a difference and investing in friendships and getting work done while enjoying my life than just sitting around and enjoying my life.

Yesterday was mine and Jeremy's eighth wedding anniversary. Hooray for us! I keep thinking that someday I'll tell you the saga of how Jeremy and I began dating, but I'm not sure how idiotic I really want to look on this blog. If I ever do tell the story, you'll have to keep in mind that I was a very silly and immature eighteen year old and cut me some slack. Or, you can just sit back and laugh at me; either way, we'll all have fun!

We're supposed to be getting ready to leave for the library and collecting all of our overdue library books right now, but instead I'm blogging, and my daughters are fighting over a cup full of water. This is going to be a mess. I can see it now.

Huh, they decided to share it. That's a surprise.

Mercy's third birthday is the 25th, and I'm working on her birthday party plans for this weekend. Gotta run to the store for some cake ingredients. I think I'll use the second gigantic courgette to make a chocolate zucchini cake complete with chocolate chips! Mmm, my mouth can taste it already. Saturday, hurry up and get here!

Well, this post is going nowhere fast. :-) I need to get busy on a shopping list and finding those library books...and drying the spilled water off the computer's extra battery. So much for sharing.
My neighbor Meagan gave us two giant zucchini last night, and the girls and I just devoured one of them a few minutes ago because a recipe for Zucchini Parmesan popped up in my inbox from this morning with very convenient timing. Liberty and Mercy called our snack "Zucchini Cookies" since the slices were about the same size and shape of cookies. I thought I'd share.

Easy Zucchini Parmesan

This quick and healthy snack tastes like a gormet side-dish, but just takes minutes to prepare! And as a bonus, it's an easy way to get the kids to eat their vegetables.

Zucchini, 1 cup, sliced
Parmesan Cheese, grated, 1 tbsp
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, Original Buttery Spray, 10 sprays I skipped this ingredient, since it's not real food. We don't enjoy eating plastic. :-)
Non-stick cooking spray I used Olive Oil spray which added a trace amount of calories.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, then coat with some non-stick cooking spray. Place the zucchini slices out on the pan, then spritz with them with the butter spray. Sprinkle on the parmesan cheese and then pop it in the oven. Broil for a few minutes - until the cheese starts to brown. Enjoy it while it's warm!

Make a larger batch for a delicious and healthy side dish for any meal! Your family will love it!

Number of Servings: 1

Calories 51.6
Total Fat 1.6 g
Saturated Fat 1.0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.4g
Cholesterol 4mg
Sodium 128.5mg
Potassium 460.8mg
Total Carbs 7.3g
Dietary Fiber 2.5g
Sugars 3g
Protein 3.2g
Vitamin A 40.9%
Vitamin B12 1.2%
Vitamin B6 7.3%
Vitamin C 13.8%
Vitamin E 1.3%
Calcium 9.2%
Copper 7.8%
Folate 7.8%
Iron 3.8%
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I've got a little extra time before bed tonight, and I decided I'd better keep my posting promise. (If I don't, I'll certainly hear about it from my mommy). :-)

(Do you know how happy that makes me?)

We've had a jam-packed weekend celebrating Independence Day! On Friday, our whole family changed the brake pads on Winny. Jeremy jacked the van up and loosened the lug nuts on the two front tires. Liberty and Mercy finished unscrewing the nuts for him and then decided to pretend the nuts were treasure, and they began hiding them in various places around the garage. I read the owner's manual step-by-step to Jeremy as he took the brakes apart and replaced the pads. Then the girls had to find all ten lug nuts and helped screw them back into place on the tires, and we all cleaned up the driveway together. Afterwards, our neighbors down the street set off a whole bunch of fireworks in the road, and we sat on the tailgate of Tiny Tim to enjoy the show.

Saturday was a day of pure bliss. With absolutely nothing planned to do, we really enjoyed the lackadaisical day. We ate a scrumptious brunch at Cracker Barrel and took leftovers home for supper. We skipped through a Walmart grocery shopping trip. We took a nap -- all of us! Everyone in our family including me! And all day, I kept checking my phone to see if my opponent, TTHWiggles, had taken his turn on Words With Friends, our Scrabble game, so that I could take my turn, but he must have taken the weekend off as well. I hope he had a great Fourth.

On Sunday after church, we headed over to our friends' house for lunch and water fights and snacking and games and more snacking and laughing and more games and supper and fireworks and talking late, late into the night. We didn't get back home until 1:30ish in the morning. Mercy fell asleep at our friends' house around 10 pm, but Liberty stayed awake the entire time, right up until she was tucked into her bed at home.

Today, we all slept in until 10 am! I don't think that has happened since Liberty was born almost five years ago! I woke up automatically at 7:15, but immediately reminded myself it was a holiday and fell back asleep. Then I woke at 8:30, and got up to check on the girls. They were sound asleep, so I stumbled back to my bed and snuggled next to Jeremy. Finally, at 10, Mercy woke up and asked for breakfast. We all slowly arrived in the kitchen for breakfast, then Jeremy fertilized the yard (can you believe it? we really have tiny blades of grass poking timidly up in the sunshine!), Liberty straightened the girls' bedroom, Mercy straightened the toy room, and I organized my Sunday School materials. Around four pm, we walked down to our neighbors' house for another party filled with food, food, food and lots of fun people AND DEVILED EGGS! The girls squealed with their friends in the backyard while the adults ate and talked and laughed together.

We had planned to stay until dusk to enjoy some fireworks together, but the previous late night crept up on our family, and we decided to walk home earlier. We walked slowly, enjoying the sunset and the comfortable temperatures, and by the time we reached our yard, our next door neighbors were setting off the beginning of their fireworks stash. Now, everyone knows that you cannot just walk away from a wonderful light show in progress. So we stopped and joined them. The girls loved being allowed to light a few bottle rockets and dash away as fast as they could run. They also enjoyed those little popper things that you throw down at the sidewalk and watch them quickly flash and pop. I thought they would like the actual shoot-up-into-the-sky-and-explode fireworks, but Liberty declared, "Mom, that wasn't a very pretty one," after each explosion. The favorites of the night were the "fire fountains."

After all the pyrotechnics were spent, we said our goodbyes and finished our short walk home. Jeremy and I tucked the girls into their beds and briefly considered falling into bed ourselves, but Jeremy had left his Starcraft game from earlier in the middle of a mission, and he wanted to finish it before bed, so he headed downstairs. I considered the peaceful, empty house and our wonderful, friend-filled weekend and decided I'd better blog it for my momma before I forgot the details.

I sincerely hope your weekend was as lovely and laughter-filled as ours!
I would like to announce that we have a very special guest with us! Ladies and gentlemen, my mother is FINALLY reading my blog! Make sure you all leave a comment to welcome her!

After almost five years of "Hey, Mom, I have a blog!" "Mom, did you read my blog?" "Why don't you go read my blog, Mom?" she is finally reading it! Her friends have been reading for years now (hi, Sue! *waves*), but not my mom. It was about a year or so ago that I resigned myself to the fact that my mother would never read, and I stopped asking. (She keeps saying she is too busy to log onto the computer, and considering the fact that she has a V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W dial-up connection, I really can't say that I blame her.) In fact, I think it was shortly after my week-long visit at my parents' white farmhouse in Illinois two years ago (wherein I attempted to blog from that same dial-up) that I gave up asking her to read. Oh, the torture of waiting for a web browser to load. I didn't want to inflict that kind of pain on my very own mother.

But now she's inflicting it on herself! Hooray! :-)

I love you, Mom!

It all started one day a few months ago when she had nothing better to do. She decided to read, and she got hooked. What can I say? I'm very addictive. Now, she checks frequently, and if I haven't posted often enough she calls me to complain -- in a nice way, of course. "Missy, I checked your blog, and I can't find any new blog posts. Are you still writing?"

So I've made an executive decision. I'm going to post more often. Did you read that, Mom? It's just for you! Don't you feel special now?

And, since you haven't been reading all along, and you don't know how to go back to read from the beginning, I'm going to link to a few posts that I know you will enjoy. (Just click on the tan words below called a link, read the post that it takes you to, then click the "back" arrow button on the top left corner of your screen to get back to this post. Repeat for each link below.)

I'm Thankful

Playing Dream House

Drinking Sophistication

Confessions Of A Former Teenager

One of Those Days

What A Day

There, Mom, that should keep you busy until I write my next post!