On my way to Hawaii (in my dreams)

So, I've been expanding my homemaking talents by canning this year. And, wow is it a lot of work! I've burned myself several times, it makes my kitchen the temperature of a tropical rain forest, and I despise the sight of fresh vegetables when I'm done. It's difficult to spend hours chopping and cooking to produce a jar of salsa when there's a Food Lion just down the road. And, honestly, I've wondered sometimes if it's really even financially beneficial. But, I think after I build up my jar supply and I grow (or bum off of other people) what I'm canning, it really is cheaper than buying it. So, here is the tally for this year ...
41 quarts and
30 pints of ...
green beans
pickled okra (yee-haw y'all!)
pickled banana peppers
peach jam
strawberry jam
and we have stocked an ample amount of peaches, strawberries, blueberries, and okra (an "ample" supply of okra isn't very much for us - I don't even know why we grew it this year, but it's producing like crazy!) in our outside freezer.
So, it seems crazy to spend so much time and money on canning. But, when it's all over, I have to admit that it's quite satisfying to see all of those jars lined up on the shelf: red, green, and orange. They're beautiful in a way. And, I'm passing on the art to the next generation: Kate carries around my jar-lifter-outer thing and tells me that her pretend food is "too hot".
And ... it's satisfying to know that my family will have lots of healthy canned food to eat while I'm recovering by myself in Hawaii.

I Need Your Honest Opinion

I have this urge to get my hair cut short. I mean, pretty short. Does anyone know Britt Brostrom? I love her hair! I want to get my hair cut like hers, but I don't know if I can pull it off. Not everyone has the face for a really short cut. You have to have just the right features, angles, whatever to look good. I just don't know if I do. I'm not asking if I'm pretty or attractive or anything like that. I know lots of beautiful people that wouldn't necessarily look good with a short haircut. I just need to know if I have a short haircut kind of face. Just tell it to me straight. I can take the honesty. I prefer bluntness, actually. It makes life so much easier and more refreshing.

You Missed Me, Didn't You?

So, my last post was June 5 and it's now July 17. Yikes! (I'm afraid my journal writing habits are shining through here)

My last post was titled "Playing Catch Up", so since I've already used that title ... I'll have to think of something else. Apparently, I'm having a hard time keeping up my blog on any kind of regular basis. I don't know how you amazing people who update your blog all of the time do it .. I mean, I'm impressed. I secretly feel better about myself when someone else takes a long time to update their blog too. Silly, I know. It's like seeing dust, old Cheerios, and a few toys under some else's couch. It makes them seem real. So all of you people who find it hard to write on your blog all of the time, I'm just helping to keep it real.

I really feel like life has been a whirlwind since Hayden got out of school in early June. Does anyone else feel like life is in fast forward? I've heard many people say that the older you get, the faster time flies. I say "amen" to that! (I'll be 32 in a few weeks, so maybe I qualify for the "getting older" group). Here are some things that have been part of this crazy, chaotic fun summer so far:
We started off the summer with a bang at the Simpson Family Cousin's Camp. There are 24 (I think?) cousins in all and the oldest is 9. That's a crazy good time! We even had matching shirts this year. The kids had a great time and I think we've decided to make it an annual tradition.
Cletus and I headed off to Ocracoke to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. I can't believe it's been 10 years! I mean, I feel like it was just yesterday that we were being awkward and sitting in the corner of a singles' dance telling each other we just wanted to be "friends". How time flies! It was a fun beach trip - we rented bikes and rode around the island.
We took a ferry to get over there and Cletus told me he was taking me on a cruise ... not quite. We enjoyed being together without the kids and spending so much time together. I am so happy to love him more than I ever could 10 years ago. It just gets better all the time ....

Hayden showed off his hard work at his first piano recital. He's been taking lessons for only 4 months but he has learned quickly and has really taken to the piano. (However, if I ever have to hear "Woodchuck" or "Daydream" again, I think I'm going to jump out the window). We are proud of him! Thanks, Leah Steelman, for being such a great teacher.

Me and the kids took off to the Blue Ridge Mountains to enjoy an extended family camping trip. Despite a rough start (Kate cried, freaked out, was delerious, and talked about grasshoppers until 4:15 am the first night in the tent), we really enjoyed ourselves. My favorite part was the visit to Alta Pass Apple Orchard off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you're up that way and have never been, it's well worth the stop.

And, how could I leave out our new baby, the dental practice? You'll notice that the sign looks like there was suppose to be a date after "Opening July ...". That's because the date has changed a few times. Cletus has worked countless hours on this new office. He has worried and stressed and planned. The office looks cute and harmless, but oh the sweat and tears that have gone into it. He is actually opening tommorrow and we are excited/anxious to see how everything goes. If you're ever in Bunn and you have a tooth ache ...

Cletus (aka Old Man Simpson) turned 34 at the beginning of July!

My brother, Aaron, and his family flew in from Texas a few weeks ago and we've been enjoying some time with them. The "boys" took a river rafting trip to Tennessee and had a blast! They did it all in a day - about 9 hours total in the car. I heard it was worth the trip.

After the rafting trip, we all went to the Outer Banks for 4 days on the beach in Corolla. The weather was amazing and we had such a good time. I love the age our kids are at - perfect for all day beach play. They really could have stayed all day every day. Kate was a trooper and spent 8 hours on the beach one day.

We really loved getting to spend time with Aaron, Lynda, Todd, Autumn, and Audrey. We only get to see them once a year at best, so it's always a fun time when they come. I have to admit that hosting 5 extra people in our home was a little stressful, but it was worth it. We love them and are glad for our kids to spend time with their cousins.

And, how can you go without a family picture? We had planned on hiring someone to take the pictures for us, but when that didn't work out, I just did it myself. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. I just set up my tripod and then jumped in at the last minute. The little girls aren't really smiling, but I didn't set my expectations too high.

Well, that's it. Thanks for joining us on the Simpson Family Tour. I hope to write again before it's been another month and a half ... but you never know. I'll leave you all on the edge of your seats.