“We Forgot Your Shrooms!”

For years I had heard people talk about Morel mushrooms and never thought much more about them. This year our great neighbor Stacey explained them us and how yummy they are, and how people haven’t figured out how to grow them so they are a true delicacy. So when I saw one a walk through the neighborhood I send her a photo of it. We joined her as we went to go pick it. That Morel turned out to be a porcelain decoration (picture of it below). It was a sad day.

The kids and I (Brian) went hunting down trails near our home and found nothing. Then my friend Craig told me more about these Morels over lunch and I’ve found myself looking for them every place I went, even while jogging in Mississippi and I’ve found nothing.

Then Sunday morning I hear shouted across the sanctuary before the service, “Brian, we forgot your shrooms!” Which made me laugh cause it definitely sounded like these shrooms might be for getting high. The real reason people are obsessed with them here is once they’ve been fried up they are sooooooo good!

Our friends had gotten us a bag of these Morels and shared a recipe for us to follow. So here is the process to eating these midwest truffles.

Step One: Look at them, so weird looking.

Morels in Manhattan Kansas

Step Two: Wash them to get any loose leaves and what not off them.

Morels in Manhattan Kansas

Step Three: Cut the bigger ones in half. I was really surprised to find they were hollow, they feel solid when holding them.

Morels in Manhattan Kansas

Step Four: Ask someone who won’t burn the house down to fry them after dipping in egg mixture and coating in flour.

Morels in Manhattan Kansas

Step Five: Be patient cause if you reach into the oil you’ll fry your own hand.

Morels in Manhattan Kansas

Step Six: Eat and then remember to let your children try them despite your hoping they won’t like them so you won’t have to share any.

Morels in Manhattan Kansas

They don’t taste like fried mushrooms I’ve had as an appetizer at restaurants and while I can’t think of anything to compare them to, they taste amazing. I finally understand why adults act like children playing Pokemon Go every Spring when the short growing season begins. Thank you Clines for providing this new Manhattan experience with us.

My newest obsession

I make fun of Brian for getting stuck on things…but it’s actually one of my favorite things about him. You wanna know about NASCAR, random baseball facts, the history of soda, the different types of bicycles, -the list goes on- he’s your guy.

But recently it’s my turn to get obsessed.

With this:

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 2.04.59 PM

This Garmin Vivofit Jr went on super sale right after Thanksgiving, so we got one for Becks for his birthday. I thought it would be fun mostly for him. I think I love it even more than he does though!

Best parts: it’s waterproof AND the battery lasts a year. This means he never has to take it off, which in turn means he never has to forget to put it back on! It counts steps, but it also counts “activity minutes.” So at his 11 year well check when the nurse asked if he gets 60 minutes of play time a day, I could tell her with certainly, “actually he does!”

March 2017

It has a fun game on the app that he collects facts and animals for every day he hits 60 min of active time and I thought he may be too old for that, but he really loves it (this is also due to his love for animals though)!

AND it also tracks sleep, automatically. This is probably where I’m most obsessed.  I can look and see how he slept every night. So when the doctor asked how much sleep he gets at night, I could also tell him that.

March 2017

Yet another great feature: it has a timer on it. I can tell him, “set your timer for 5 minutes and then we are heading out” or “read for 30 minutes, set your watch.” Brilliant I tell you. I’m actually shocked that this is the only kid activity tracker out there. It seems like an untapped market. Kudos to Garmin!!


We dig it: Telestrations

We love ourselves a good board game. Mel’s Kitchen Cafe not only has the best recipes, but the best games too! Here a link to all of her gift guides. Her games have the same reputation as her recipes: we’ve never tried one she recommended that the whole family didn’t love!! (The non-game ideas are awesome too by the way!)

Her most recent post included Telestrations. I’ve seen it before, and had it in my wish list even, but when it was at the top of her Top 20 games of all time list, I didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. It’s basically a drawing game of Telephone!

What we love about this game:

  • Everyone can play and it’s the same fun level for all of us. (All players just have to be old enough to read and write)
  • Easy set up, there aren’t a billion pieces
  • You can play for hours, or 15 minutes
  • We laugh really hard…and who doesn’t like to laugh really hard??

Here’s a sampling of some of the directions this game has taken-

Here’s the first word:

I drew this:

Beckham guessed this:

So Sadie drew this:

And Brian guessed this:

Second case in point:

Sadie Piper drew “muffins”

We make fun of Brian for his extensive Astro’s hat collection…Beckham guessed:

This is a game changer.

There are a few things in life we just won’t try without a recommendation from someone we trust.

  1. Hole in the wall restaurants.
  2. Overpriced things that are worth paying extra for (Connie’s Cookies, pants, etc).
  3. A non-main line cell phone provider.

But once you tell us to try it, we will.

And also, I hated paying our cell phone bill. We were paying $117 for two of us with Sprint, which was already cheaper than anything else we could find. But that’s still A LOT of money.

So, when Christine told us they tried Ting and love it, we were game to try it out!

And it’s been the best ever! 

Here’s the deal: you bring your phone over, but since companies aren’t giving deals on them anymore anyways, that’s a non-issue. Also, you only pay for what you use. Here’s the pricing:

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 3.20.51 PM

Brian and I use our phones a lot. And we didn’t want to be paying for a phone we were afraid to use. We don’t want to not interact with someone cause we are thinking “that will cost me $x.” We really love unlimited things for that reason. But we also felt like we were getting taken to the cleaners paying $117 a month. So we switched over (knowing we could always switch back if it didn’t work for us)

Yeah, we aren’t switching back.

The first month we decided we were going to use our phones like normal and see what happened. You don’t pay for using wifi, so that’s great, since texting between iPhones uses that when it can and doesn’t count as anything!

Our bill was $46.28 (after taxes).

No limiting of our usage, no problem getting service, no problems at all.

And there’s an app you can even check your usage and it estimates what your bill will be!

April 2016

And honestly, it’s helped limit our phone use too. Cause if I know I’m going to pay (even a nominal amount) to look at instagram when I’m bored in line at the grocery store, I’m more likely to talk to the person behind me instead. And I’m happier when I choose that instead. So it’s been a win-win!

We’ve been using it for 4 months now and our highest bill was $64. That’s half of what we were paying before, for the SAME EXACT THING.

Ting. We love you.


The new Junie B

No, we didn’t get a new cat (yet?). I mean this is like the Junie B books.

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 7.51.12 AM

This book is hilarious and has us all wondering how the author knows so much about Berkley. From the first page we were like, YES, look, it’s a picture of OUR family!!

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 7.50.52 AM



This little girl likes to talk and ask questions too!

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 7.50.40 AM

And she wants to stay in her winter night gown. Berkley LIVES in her fleece footies YEAR ROUND!

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 7.50.24 AM

We laughed the whole way through this book and were so excited to see a second one!!

Jan 2016

Boo was totally loving seeing the similarities (Dory likes to pretend to be a dog too…and her family won’t play fetch with her either!) and dressed in her nightgown (inside out of course) and made Dory’s imaginary friend out of paper and also a banana (it’s how she calls Nubbers).

Dec 2015

Anyone with a youngest child that’s weirder than the rest will LOVE this book!



We are townies now!

Now that we’ve lived in Manhattan two years, we feel like it’s home. And that means we are locals. And that means we need to embrace being “townies” and support local businesses. Honestly, that’s a breeze here cause they are some of our favorite places!! Here are some of the gems we’ve discovered so far:

Taco Lucha- Brian’s favorite restaurant! Every single one of their tacos is the best! He loves their “tinga sauce” too! Their bean dip is our fav!

Supreme Automotive- This one came recommended to us by the Hiltons, and he’s really great!! Oil changes are only $30 and John is just a great guy (who was also born and raised in Houston, so we have that bond!)! I took the van in once because it wasn’t leaking oil, but was somehow losing it. We were sure it was going to be a big one. $27 later it was refilled with oil and the problem fixed! Brian asked me “are you sure they didn’t leave a zero off that total?” You know how most places will charge you like $40 just to “run diagnostics?” We took both cars in this week cause they had the check engine lights on and we were just planning on dropping one off. Instead, he comes out, hooks up the wires, and tells us what the problems were (one was just bad gas!). All totally free. He’s seriously the best: honest, hard working, no nonsense.


MVP Glass- We’ve taken the van here a few times for chip fills from rocks hitting windshield. They have gone above and beyond to make sure it’s perfect!!

Big Poppis- We’ve raved about them before, but they can’t be left off! Aaron is awesome and so is his bike shop! (Update: they are closing, we are super sad.)

The Chef- We just recently discovered this one; it’s breakfast food. Neither Brian nor I would consider ourselves huge breakfast food fans…until we ate here. Now we are sold! (And I researched how to make poached eggs and hollandaise sauce! 🙂 )

Varsity Donuts- I mean, best donuts on the planet. In the Little Apple, go figure!

Manhattan Mercury- We love our local newspaper! Wednesdays are our favorite day of the week now cause we get to check the “snap shots” section!

Radina’s Coffeehouse- Few things are more quaint than a local coffee shop. They also recently opened a Bakehouse and it’s some of the best food and cutest atmosphere in town!

Tease Hair Studio- Chelsea cuts all of our hair. Super cute shop and she’s great with the kids and Brian likes it cause she remembers how she cut it last time and he doesn’t have to do anything but sit down!



I dig it: Books edition

We are skeptical book recommenders. But here are ones that made the cut cause they really are great ones in our opinions!


The Duties of Parents

This one is parenting gold. The best parenting book we’ve read. It’s small, but packed with great encouragement and challenges to make our parenting more biblical. Be warned: JC Ryle shoots it straight.


The Art of Neighboring 

Practical advice and biblical reasoning for getting to know your neighbors.


Trust: A Godly Woman’s Adornment

Sheri Reymond turned me on to this book. I rarely re-read things, but I find myself coming back to this one. I don’t struggle to believe God is sovereign, but I didn’t realize I did often struggle to believe He was good. These short devotionals helped me understand His goodness better. She also has ones on Purity, Contentment and Joy.


Sex, Dating and Relationships

Affectionately called “The Yellow Sex book” around here, this book is a biblical view of dating and relationships that is realistic within our culture. It’s not I Kissed Dating Goodbye! 🙂


Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood

The most important thing Brian and I learned doing youth ministry was how important parents are. This book helped encourage me to keep talking to our girls, and practically what that looks like.


Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God

It’s no secret we love us some John Piper (Sadie PIPER…) and his wife Noel was no exception either. This book made God bigger and realer to me. And ANYTHING that does that is a great thing. It was short bios on some women I want to be more like.


Fit to Burst

Short devotional-style chapters. Encouraged my heart in the middle of the trenches of raising littles. Her other book Loving the Little Years is a great one too.


Sensing Jesus

Brian loves this one especially for pastors/elders (but not exclusively by any means!). It will teach you that you aren’t Jesus, and that you need Jesus. It’s a reminder to slow down and think and know the limitations of being a finite being.


Letters to Pastor’s Wives

The best book on the subject that I’ve read at least. I refer back to it often. I love that it’s a compilation of authors and perspectives.


Sheet Music

A bold, straight-talk book on sex. We recommend for engaged and married (even NOT newly married!). He fights right through any awkwardness associated with sex and cuts to the chase.  —


Hole in our Holiness

We read this in our Ladies’ Book Study. It was a great book to read with a group cause the discussion was great! It’s a challenge to grow in holiness and not be content to stay “where you are” cause that’s not what Jesus calls us to.





We dig it: Big Poppi Bicycle Co!



Before we even moved to Manhattan, Brian was obsessed with Big Poppi Bicycle Co. He was so excited to support a local bike shop that you could tell had a passion for biking. Then, he learned the owners are our neighbors and was star struck! They are the nicest couple you will meet and we love Big Poppi even more than we thought!

This Christmas, they had pictures with Santa, bicycle-style! You get to pull his sleigh on your bike!


They even had fun hats and noses! Our kids thought that was the coolest! They will take any opportunity to dress up!





Santa looks fake, he was totally real!

I like this one! 

We also had the privilege of being in their 2015 bike catalog!  Check them out in Aggieville, they are the best!!

big poppi catalog

25 Better Ways to Ask Your Child: “How was school?”

“How was your day?” just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes I get frustrated that the only response I can pull from our kids when they get home is “Fine.” But then I realize if someone asked me the the same question, I’d have a hard time remembering and summing up 8 full hours too.

We found these questions and in the weeks we’ve been using them in the evenings with our kids, we know the Crazies so much better. I feel like we know more about their lives, what makes them tick, their classroom dynamics, their friends. Our kids even beg us to ask questions “from the sheet.” We also make sure we aren’t using this question time as “preaching” time. We listen and ask follow up questions only. Most of the time this isn’t the time for correction, that can be worked in later.

Hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

#1.  What was the best thing that happened at school today?  (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)

#2.  Tell me something that made you laugh today.

#3.  If you could choose who would you like to sit by in class?  (Who would you NOT want to sit by in class?  Why?)

#4.  Where is the coolest place at the school?

#5.  Tell me a weird word that you heard today.  (Or something weird that someone said.)

#6.  If I called your teacher tonight what would she tell me about you?

#7.  How did you help somebody today?

#8.  How did somebody help you today?

#9.  Tell me one thing that you learned today.

#10.  When were you the happiest today?

#11.  When were you bored today?

#12.  If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed up someone who would you want them to take?

#13.  Who would you like to play with at recess that you’ve never played with before?

#14.  Tell me something good that happened today.

#15.  What word did your teacher say most today?

#16.  What do you think you should do/learn more of at school?

#17.  What do you think you should do/learn less of at school?

#18.  Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?

#19.  Where do you play the most at recess?

#20.  Who is the funniest person in your class?  Why is he/she so funny?

#21.  What was your favorite part of lunch?

#22.  If you got to be the teacher tomorrow what would you do?

#23.  Is there anyone in your class that needs a time out?

#24.  If you could switch seats with anyone in the class who would you trade with?  Why?

#25.  Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today at school.

Our favorite homemade play-doh!



So it’s not surprising to me that Mel’s recipe for play-doh is the best! I don’t have anything against store-bought, but it gets pricey and  because of that I turn into “fun hater mom” cause I don’t want the Crazies to mix the colors. But then I let them, but then it’s all one big mess and inevitably we don’t put the lid on well enough so next time it’s a rock anyways and all that fun-hating was in vain. So now that I say that, maybe I do have something against store-bought play-doh…Buuuuut making it at home has solved this and I get to be “cool fun mom” instead! Now play-doh is more of a disposable toy! Play for a week and toss!

I’ve tried a lot of recipes for play-doh (using Jello, Kool-aid…). While I haven’t disliked any of them, this one is by far the easiest, cheapest and fastest!!

Homemade Playdough from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

*Makes about 2 1/2 cups of playdough

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon cooking oil, like canola or vegetable
4-6 drops food coloring

In a medium saucepan, combine the dry ingredients. In a 2-cup or larger liquid measuring cup, combine the water, oil, and food coloring. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball (it will be shaggy and messy looking). This should only take a few minutes.

On a lightly greased countertop, turn out the playdough and knead until smooth. Store the playdough in a tightly covered container or ziploc bag. Tightly covered, the playdough will keep for several months.