Browsed by
Category: Than and Michelle



Another summer, another VBS–some things never change!  However, this was the first year that Nathan was a volunteer instead of a student.  It was the fourth time Than and his staff have created the program in-house, and this year they went with a Lego theme.  The content focused on how Jesus built up His disciples so they could continue the building of God’s Kingdom.  Bible teaching, lots of Lego building, songs, games, snacks, and crafts–that part was my department 🙂  As always, it was humbling to see the passion and dedication of so many volunteers.  And many of the best ones were a lot younger than you might think!!  There were so many different skills and talents serving together in a wide variety of ways.  It is a joy to see the richness of spiritual growth in community, for kids and staff alike.  Here’s a little peek (thanks to other people who shared FB photos!)

Any suggestions for next year?!!

16 Years Ago…

16 Years Ago…

Vacation Bible School week…

Crazy Hair Day for students and leaders…

School board meeting…

And our 16th Anniversary!!

I’m pretty proud of this anniversary photo–the two of us, together, doing things we love.  A cathedral length veil and flamingo shorts just says a lot!  We look forward to celebrating “properly” next weekend with a getaway for just the two of us, but the day didn’t go uncelebrated in spite of the timing!  Than had volunteers bring me flowers throughout the day, and I ended up with a huge pitcher which I displayed next to our wedding photos for anyone who was patient enough to stop and take a peek.

We squeezed in family dinner at Chik-Fil-A, always the height of romantic destinations, and were happy to serve together surrounded by people who care for us well.  It really was a happy anniversary, and who knows what we will be dressed in after 16 more!

Spring Break (Catching Up)

Spring Break (Catching Up)

How did I miss posting about our spring break road trip?!!  We traveled to St. Louis (as we have done before) and took with us special guests Uncle Nate and Aunt Kerry (which we haven’t done before).  I suppose it is a bit late to write a long play-by-play of our visit, but it is worth noting that we went and were SO glad we did.  We visited some old favorite places and some new spots, but were especially happy about having rich times with so many different parts of our family.

Twas the Night Before School Started…

Twas the Night Before School Started…

After titling this post, I briefly considered writing it in the style of Clement Moore’s famous poem, and then quickly discarded the idea as involving entirely too much thinking.  Sorry, my creativity didn’t make it past the title!  But, now that my “children are nestled all snug in their beds” I decided to take a quick moment to share some Christmas memories before life lurches back to full swing in the morning.

Our break has been delightfully full of an excellent mix of events and relaxation (and sometimes both at the same moment.)  The first week was more crowded with holiday festivities including various groups of family and friends, while the second week was more laid back with lots of game playing, playdates, and hanging around home.  Here are a few of my favorite pics:

Nathan and Katya are now professional Christmas card assemblers.  Keep them in mind for next year’s holiday mailings!

One child was Gabriel in the annual Christmas pageant, and the other was a sheep.  Can you tell which was which?  (We will be hosting private viewings of the DVD for any and all interested parties, popcorn and hot tea included in the price of admission)

Our annual light-looking drive is always a highlight.  Eating drive-through fast food in the car while roaming in search of some of the best lights Than can find is always an evening I look forward to 🙂  We enjoyed sharing the trip with a few extra guests, and by the end Katya just had to give up and go to sleep beside me.

SO MANY kind boxes arrived in the mail from various loved family members, and we spread out the fun by opening each one at a separate time.  Love it!!

Our Christmas Day gathering was a simple and cozy one, featuring baked potato soup, yummy extras brought by my aunt and cousin, and good time with various people from both sides of the family.  I am so grateful for each year I get to celebrate with these beloved people.

Our holiday time has been a season of joy, family, warmth, and hope.  There is so much to be grateful for, and all of it is God’s rich and undeserved grace.

Annual Cookie Review

Annual Cookie Review

In case you haven’t noticed, the last twelve posts have been a very brief monthly wrap-up combined with a cookie recipe.  Here is a list of all the posts:

January-Hot Cocoa Cookies

February-Raspberry Almond Thumbprints

March-Cream Cheese Almond Bars

April-Sugar Cookie Bears

May-Peppermint Swirls

June-Candy Cane Thumbprints

July-Orange Shortbread

August-Mexican Wedding Cakes

September-Peanut Butter Pretzels

October-Citrus Gumdrops

November-Chocolate Crinkles


There are several other holiday treats that didn’t make this year’s list, so if you ate something at my house and I didn’t share the recipe, let me know and I’ll put it up!


Hot Cocoa Cookies

Hot Cocoa Cookies

January in Review, and Christmas Cookie #1

A favorite photo…

A few highlights…

  • Returning from Senegal
  • Sharing photos and trip stories with so many kind audiences
  • Settling back into routines (and getting snow!)

And a cookie recipe to go with it!

Print Recipe
Hot Cocoa Cookies
These were near the top of Nathan's list this year, and are always popular at my recital. They just look so festive. The soft texture of the base cookie is also appealing. The original recipe is from via Pinterest.
Icing Ingredients
Icing Ingredients
  1. In a medium saucepan or microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring frequently. Once melted, set aside to cool slightly.
  2. In a mixer bowl, beat the sugar, eggs, and vanilla on low until well combined.
  3. Add the melted chocolate mixture and blend well.
  4. Gently mix in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Mix until just combined.
  5. Cover the dough and refrigerate about 1 hour. If making the dough a day ahead, let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping.
  6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease at least two baking sheets. Use a tablespoon or cookie scoop to put the dough on the prepared sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake about 12 minutes.
  7. While the cookies bake, cut large marshmallows in half for a total of 50 marshmallow pieces. (You can also use 4-5 mini marshmallows per cookie). When the cookies have baked, remove the tray from the oven. Press one marshmallow half (or 4-5 mini marshmallows) onto each cookie. Return the hot cookies to the oven and bake another 3 minutes or until the marshmallows have puffed up and adhered to the cookie.
  8. Allow cookies to cool on the pan for a few minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  9. When cookies are cool, combine all icing ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together well. Icing should be pourable but not too runny, so adjust consistency with additional powdered sugar or hot water.
  10. Place cookies on cooling rack over a baking sheet to catch drips. Spoon a small amount of icing on top of each marshmallow. After icing just a few cookies, top with sprinkles before the icing sets. Continue icing and sprinkling until everything looks festive.
  11. Allow icing to dry and set for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes

These cookies stay soft and pretty for at least 1 week or more after baking.

Original recipe:

Share this Recipe
Up in the Treetop

Up in the Treetop

Look what’s happening in our backyard!


An unhealthy tree on the side of the house is turning into a treehouse!  With Than at the helm, the kids have been actively involved in the planning and initial construction of this much-anticipated new play space.


Thanks to a school holiday, the construction crew managed to get the basic frame and some decent flooring up in a weekend.  The rope ladder has been made, one wall is up, and some very good play has already taken place!

I can’t guarantee that every inch of our new project will meet the strictest of safety standards, but it is pretty good for a start!  We look forward to additional helpers in the form of grandparents and uncles to help with further construction.


Hopefully this is the site of many good adventures to come…

Hard at Work

Hard at Work

Here’s a peek into daily life at the Baylors.  On the rare evenings when we eat on time and don’t have dinner guests, Than and I often take a walk while the kids clean up from dinner.  One night they decided to keep us up to date via text message with their progress.  Check it out:











Good work, guys!!  (And thanks for the gummy bear treat when we got home.)

Fabulous 4th Part 3

Fabulous 4th Part 3

After the 4th of July festivities on the west side of Idaho, we said goodbye to Uncle Nate and Aunt Kerry and headed back to Grandma’s house.  Here’s a look at a strange sculpture we passed, driving through the Craters of the Moon volcanic area.


Back in Idaho Falls, we snuck in a few more games and I even stole away with each of my parents in turn for some “alone time,” a welcome treat.  There may or may not have been some more silliness going on as well…


It is always sad to say goodbye, but this time was easier because we had one more destination left before home.  With a car packed unusually full, we headed off for one more night on the road.


A few hours later, we arrived in Salt Lake City.  While Uncle Nate and Aunt Kerry finished their day of work, we ate a delicious lunch outside the fancy downtown mall and then toured Temple Square.  That prompted some interesting conversations about ways we agree and ways we disagree with what other people believe–always a good thing to go over.  We spent the rest of the afternoon at the excellent Natural History Museum of Utah.

Unfortunately, Than ended up with a very nasty migraine that put a damper on things for a few hours.  Fortunately, it was time to head to our hosts’ home and some rest, medicine, and quiet did the trick.  By the time dinner rolled around,  he had recovered and we enjoyed a pleasant walk to a nearby Italian/pizza place for a delicious meal together (marred only slightly by the fact that the TVs were playing the National Hot Dog Eating Contest.  Gross!!)  Then back to Nate and Kerry’s to put the kids to bed and share a pleasant evening of games and conversation.  It was so fun to see their home and enjoy their hospitality.


And after all that, it was finally time to head home.  A long day’s drive, cooperative travelers, Adventures in Odyssey, and then we were there.  Phew!


Thanks again to all our kind hosts for their warm welcome, their great ideas for things to do and places to eat, and the joy of time together.  Another year in the memory books, and we are already looking forward to the next one!



Fabulous 4th Part 1

Fabulous 4th Part 1

Our annual Independence Day visit to Idaho was divided into three parts this year, so I’ll split my posts accordingly.  The first leg of our journey involved getting there–a late night affair this time, arriving after midnight to slide gratefully into bed.  Highlights of the first few days included Reed’s Dairy ice cream, putting new fish in Grandpa’s pond, visiting the Revolutionary War exhibit at the museum, and a special trip to the Idaho Potato Museum.  How have we missed that gem?!!  “Free taters for out of staters,” a singing video-projected potato family in the spud cellar, lots of potato farm equipment, the world’s largest potato crisp (not to be confused with a potato chip) and a Mr. Potato Head play area.  And, of course, we had to have “Idaho Nachos” for lunch.  French fries with nacho toppings-yum!




Of course, one of the favorite nights of the trip is the evening of the home fireworks display on the driveway.  Uncle Nate and Aunt Kerry arrived in plenty of time for one more stop by the fireworks store, and then the boys spend a good while planning and assembling the annual extravaganza.  Katya wasn’t so sure she liked the idea of all that noise and fire, but some ear protection from Grandpa helped…


Sparklers, fountains, smoke bombs, snakes, crackling balls, ground blooms, fireworks that lay “eggs”, a pop-up pagoda–the list goes on and on!  Each year the creativity blossoms and the show never fails to disappoint.  Thanks, boys!