Friday, June 27, 2014

Food Friday - Chocolate Eclair Cake

Chocolate Eclair Cake
adapted from Mommy's Kitchen

I tried this cake many times but had never made it.  In the summer I love anything that is no bake and cold!  This is perfect.  It's so easy and can really be as light as you want it since you could use fat free options for many of the ingredients.  

Easy No Bake Chocolate Eclair Cake:

2 - (3.5 ounce) packages instant french vanilla pudding mix (can use sugar free)
1 - (8 ounce) container frozen light or fat free whipped topping (cool whip), thawed
3 - cups 2% or skim milk
1 - (16 ounce) package graham crackers
1 - (16 ounce) tub prepared chocolate frosting or homemade (recipe below)

Pour the dry pudding mix into a medium size bowl and measure out 3 Cups of milk. Pour into the bowl and whisk the pudding until blended and begins to thicken. 

If you don't have a whisk a spoon works just as good. add the thawed cool whip and gently fold into the pudding mixture. 

Arrange a single layer of graham cracker squares in the bottom of a 13x9 inch baking pan. Evenly spread half of the pudding mixture over the crackers.

Top with another layer of graham crackers, then the remaining pudding mixture. Top with a final layer of graham crackers. 

Now it is time for the frosting. I put my chocolate frosting in the microwave for just a bit on defrost!! don't choose cook or you will have a clumpy mess.

Microwave it for about 20 -30 seconds just to get it nice, smooth and pourable. Pour the frosting over the whole cake and spread it all around up to the edges of the pan.

Chill cake for at least 6 hours before serving. You want it to be soft just like a true eclair.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Weekly Menu - the one without any planning

So, this coming week we spend days in the hospital and then come home to just the two of us.  No, we won't be eating out since Darryl won't be up to going anywhere but I'm not really planning much.  We'll take it more day by day. 

Friday - I'm assuming we will still be in the hospital today so I'll be eating there. 

Saturday- This is an "up in an air" day.  There is a chance Darryl will still be in the hospital today.  If so, my nephew's graduation open house is today and I will probably drive over there for a bit and eat there.  If he goes home today, I will probably order a pizza or something simple after he gets settled.

Sunday - Last week I cooked up some hamburger so I will probably make some tacos or sloppy joes. 

Monday - Thursday  - This is the "no planning" comes in.  I have meat in the freezer to use if I feel like cooking, plus we have simple stuff like soup, Tuna Fish, and Mac and Cheese to use for simple meals.  I'm guessing we'll end up with Subway for dinner one night and maybe KFC at some point but I'm really not sure. 

That's it - no real planning !! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It's the big day!

Today is the big day - the day we've been waiting for months!  Darryl is having back surgery - L4-L5 Fusion.  I'll be enjoying a quiet day at the hospital while he is in the three hour surgery and yes, I'm looking forward to it!

Darryl and I have spent the last few days marking some things off of the list and spending lots of time together.  On Sunday, well, we slept in after getting home in the middle of the night.  I worked on cleaning up the house a little, did some laundry and relaxed.  We went out to dinner at Big Boy (for some yummy fish and chips!) and even went for a drive at 11:00 just because we could!

Monday was our "get 'er done" day.  I ran a few errands while Darryl fixed a few things around the house that needed to be gone - just those simple things that always get put off.  I cleaned up the garage so we can park in it again too.  We decided to take a drive and ended up at Outback for dinner and it was very, very good :-)

Tuesday was our "date day".  We started out by going to see a movie.  We saw "Mom's Night Out" and it was so good.  We laughed a lot and enjoyed our lunch of Popcorn and Pepsi ;-)  From there, we headed to the cab company for a quick stop and then went on down to the Grand Rapids Downtown Market.  We had been wanting to check it out and it is really, really cool.  We ended up getting some fabulous cookies for a snack.  From there, Darryl had to teach me how to get to the hospital :-)  So we drive that route, stopped at City Hall so he could renew his cab license and finally headed for dinner.   Once we got home we had a few little things to do - replace an outside lightbulb and replace the water softener filter. 

I had planned to take photos of a few things but that didn't happen :-) 

Now, we are ready for surgery and ready for the next 6-8 weeks as he recovers.  A family from our church has already brought us a meal and some great brownies and a HUGE cinnamon roll (just for me HA)  Such a blessing!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Vacation Bible School 2014

The boys have had the privilage of attending two different Vacation Bible School (VBS) sessions this summer. 

First up, they were finally able to attend VBS at our church this summer and they were very excited!  This year, our church did something called "Weird Animals" which the boys loved because there were games and science activities that kept them moving. 
The first few nights Josh was a little nervous at the beginning.  He was on a different "Crew" than Nate and I so over coming his "fear" of being alone was a big thing.  By Wednesday night he was having a blast though, and he told me he wasn't afraid anymore.

 Technically, Nate was a year to young to attend but, the person in charge said that four year olds can come as long as they can handle it (which he did fine).  He really had a blast and by Wednesday would look at me and say, "Mom, I want to be by myself so don't walk by me please"  What he was really saying was, "Mom, pretend you aren't here and just let me hang with the other kids" HA!
 This was one of the other boys on Josh's crew who made sure he felt part of the group. 

 Can you guess what Josh's nervous habit is????  Yep, putting those fingers on his lip!
 Josh sitting next to one of his Crew Leaders.  His name is Nathan but Josh somehow thought he was "Pastor Nate" :-)
 Game time! 
 Nate really got into all of the games and did awesome.

 Josh in science class.  Each night there was a question and the kids had to put their thumbprint under the answer they would choose. 

 Josh in game time.  Funny story.  The guy who he is sitting next to is our youth pastor, Pastor Josh.  As you can well imagine, Josh thinks he is fabulous.  As a matter of fact, Josh told me that he wants to be a "counselor" like Pastor Josh when he grows up.  On Wednesday night, Josh raised his hand to talk to Pastor about Jesus.  He was so excited to show us the tract about Heaven that he got and to tell us what he had learned.  But he also told us that he wished that Pastor Josh had been there that night because he likes him so much!

After one great week at VBS, they then went to Papa and Nana's house and are attending VBS at Papa's church.

Naturally, the boys are having fun.  They got some great t-shirts and flashlights plus, they get to see Kate, their cousin, and basically, they think she hung the moon :-)

I think that Josh and Nate are having one great summer so far!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Homeschool Happenings

Now that the end of June is approaching, I've locked in my curriculum choices for the fall for K-5 and thought I would share the plans.  I've spent the last 6 months or so looking through other blogs that I follow and researching various curriculums and ideas.  Then I asked a friend of mine what she did with her son when he hit Kindergarden and she gave me great ideas which finally solidified some questions I had on what to do with the boys. 

Our plan for 2013-2014

Bible - I've always felt like I needed to teach Bible to the boys because, well, it defines who we are and I felt like that if I didn't teach it I was slacking.  Then I talked to my friend and she gave me a lightbulb moment.  The boys attend Jr. Church and Sunday School every Sunday and, this fall, they will be in AWANA (Cubbies and Sparkies).  All of those areas give us items to work on - we can review the stories they learn in Sunday School and they will have plenty of verses to learn and concepts to review from AWANA.
 I also have these two versions of the Bible - "My First Hands-On Bible" and "The Jesus Storybook Bible".  Both offer fabulous retelling of scripture as will as activities and conversation starters.  They will be great additions to what they learn on Sunday and Wednesday without overloading them in this one area.

 I also have the two books pictured here to use for Bible lessons as well.  My mom picked them up at the Creation Museum awhile ago for me!  I'm excited to see how they fit and, if they work, I'll see if I can get more!

Phonics - This past year in our homeschool group, Agape, during Friday School the teacher in the Kinders used  "Sing, Spell, Read and Write" and Josh really did well with it.  He figured out how to start sounding out words just from the 10+ lessons he went through once a week. 
This was really a "God thing".  I borrowed the curriculum from a parent at Friday School to review.  I then e-mailed her to find out the price (the used version runs about $230.00-$250.00 for the set) which is when she said, "You must not remember me telling you that it is yours, if you can use it.  There is no cost."  That is when I had no doubt that this would work for us throughout this next year. 

Math - I struggled with what to do for Math this first year.  There are so many options; so many ideas; and so many opinions!  This is another area where I took my friends advice and scratched my first ideas.
First, we'll be using "Life of Fred" which presents math in a new way by teaching it in a day to day format.  Making it easy for kids to grasp and apply the math concepts.  Then, we will use the Singapore Math workbook for some basic math skills.  I'm not 100% sure yet if we'll do one unit in "Fred" and the one in the Math Workbook or if we'll do every other day . . ..I need to look at the lessons a little more and make that decision.

Reading - I've known for awhile what I wanted to do for reading so this was an easy pick.
We'll be going through "Five in a Row".  This curriculum spends one week focused on one book.  Then, each day the students learn about a different aspect such as Art, History, Science, geography ect. as it relates to the book.  Right now my thoughts are that it may take us more like 2 weeks to get through each book as I'm not sure if we will do this every day or just 2-3 a week. 

History/Geography - This area of study will be something we take slow.  I did pick up a great USA curriculum called "Road Trip" that we will start this year but it will be something that grows with us through
the next several years.  With this curriculum, we'll travel through the states and learn basic facts.  My main goal this year is just for the boys to get a basic over view of our country and what each state has to offer.  In future years we'll add more and more information.  I am also going to order a "God's World" subscription for each of the boys to use.  Finally, I plan on doing holiday studies with them too. 

Science - At the advice of my friend (she's awesome!) I'm going to order subscriptions of "Ranger Rick" to use with the boys and also search out some Discovery Channel shows that will teach them about animals.  We also have a set of "Zoo Book" magazines that I ordered a year ago using a Groupon.

Calender Time - We will spend time each day talking about the month/day/date as well some time and weather.  My goal is to keep this to about 10-15 minutes each day.  The boys know quite a bit already, we just need to really get the concepts nailed down. 

Other - I have a Homeschool PE Curriculum that happened to go on sale for FREE during teacher appreciation week that I want to implement at least one day a week.  Also, the boys love art projects so I throw those in as well.  Finally, I am also going to get a year membership to a computer program such as ABC Mouse or More Starfall.  This will give something for one boy to work on while I work with the other one or to use as an award system as well. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Things my Kids say

* Discussion overheard this past week: 
Nate:  Oh no Josh, I broke the Lego Van
Josh (from the bathroom): That's ok, just get the map and rebuild it.
Nate: I can't, I didn't go to building school like you.  Remember, you went there a long time ago.
Josh: Well, you can still try. 
Building School?  Really? 

* Nate asked me to close the curtian one morning because it was  "making his eyes browed"  LOL

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Weekly Menu - the one with a trip, surgery, and a hospital stay.

I do not have a Food Prep photo so I didn't do any food prep.  This was our "eat simple" week and boy, did we ever.  Darryl even had to scavenge  around the house for food because I never bought the chicken and rolls but he managed :-) (Don't worry, there were Hot Dogs, Soup and even some ham for him to eat)

This next week we are heading out of town for a family gathering, sending the kids to Papa and Nana's, sending Darryl into surgery, and getting to enjoy a hospital stay for a few days so the menu will be a little different than normal.

Friday - Hamburgers (on the grill of course!) and Fries.  I picked this meal because it is a favorite of the boys  . . Josh LOVES Hamburgers and Nate LOVES Fries!

Saturday - We have a little family gathering at my nieces so we will be enjoying food cooked by other people! 

Sunday - The kids are now at Papa and Nana's house so lunch will be out.  Dinner will be whatever we find at home (Soup, Mac and Cheese, cheese and crackers etc)

Monday - Steaks on the grill, sweet potatoes, and Steakhouse Rolls. 

Tuesday - Today, Darryl and I are talking the day off so we'll be eating where ever we happen to be :-)  This is the last day before his surgery so it will be weeks . . a month . . .before we are able to go out to do much. 

Wednesday and Thursday - Wednesday is Surgery day so I wll be eating at the hospital.  Thursday, I will be eating at the hospital (or grabbing some tacos from my favorite Mexican place just around the corner!) 

So, that is the simple week we have food wise.  :-) 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Happy Father's Day! (Ok, a post about our Father's Day!)

This past Sunday, as most of you know, was Father's Day.
 Darryl with his "mini-me's" Josh and Nate
Of course, we always need a funny photo!

For Father's Day, we headed to our favorite Chinese Buffet for lunch - this was Darryl's choice and, trust me, I wasn't complaining about not cooking! 

After dinner, we headed back to the house to open a few gifts.

 Josh gave Darryl his gifts first which included this water gun :-)  Now, lets keep this all real - we were all a bit tired from our fun on Saturday and getting home very late so a bit of the "crankies" was going on.  Nate got a little upset because he was sure he picked out a different card for Darryl than he actually did and . . .well, Nate STILL hasn't given Darryl the gifts he picked out.  For. real.
 I was able to get Darryl a few things.  I had set my budget and went shopping.  First, I got him this fabulous Detroit Tigers shirt (which was on sale for 30% off . .. ) then I also got him a pair of sandals (that were 30% off, plus on sale PLUS I got an additional $3.00 off with a coupon) AND a pair of water shoes (for $1.00 since the shoes were all buy one/get one for $1.00)!  My budget?  $20.00 . .. I spent?  $22.00.  Seriously.  Even I was proud of myself . :-)
All of my wonderful "men".  I'm beyond blessed with all three of them.   The rest of the day we just hung out until it was time for the boys and I to head to Vacation Bible School!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Weekend Fun

This past Saturday we headed to Darryl's mom's house for the day to spend time with his Uncle and his wife as well as the rest of the family.  It dawned a beautiful day - Sunny and cool (my kind of weather!)  After getting the grocery shopping done and a salad made, we hit the road and headed to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  As we were driving down the road Nate pipes up and says, "Mom, lets sing the song I want to sing!" and he started to sing "Over the river and through the woods .  .. "  Of course, Darryl quickly made up new words like "Over the big road (the expressway) and down the road, to Barry County we go . ." hahaha  We sang it the whole way changing the words as we drove along.  On a side note, we tried a new thing for Nate's car sickness.  I picked up a bottle of some stuff you put behind his ears that is supposed to help - for the record, he did not get sick and he usually does so we'll keep using it and see if it works.  If not, we'll find something else just so he doesn't get sick!  We've also noticed that if he rides with his window open, he doesn't seem to get sick so yes, we let him put it down even driving down the expressway (yuck!)

Anyway, here's to our fun! This is the first time that we've been at my Mother-in-laws when we felt like we could just let the boys run.  I felt like I could just make sure I knew where they were but I didn't have to follow them around like puppies :-)  It wasn't long before they came back into the house and handed me their shirts - it was obviously time to go shirtless!

 The theme of the party was "Hawaiian" but to the boys it meant "dance party" HA!  Nate kept asking when we were getting out the dance party stuff out.  Don't worry, eventually we did have a little dance fun on the lawn!
 The boys had strict instructions that they couldn't go down by the lake without either me, Darryl or Grandma so they were beyond excited once we were all outside and they could run down on the grass below the deck. 

My sister-in-law brought her Akita puppy and Nate just adored the sweet thing.  She is a beautiful dog!

 The other purpose of this party was a birthday party for Darryl's Uncle Jim's wife, Janet.  The boys love parties and were watching Grandma light the candles on the cake.  A funny story - Nate came inside and said something about "Daddy's mom and dad are outside."  We just figured he meant Darryl's mom and Charlie, her husband.  Later at dinner, though, Nate said, "Look, there's Grandma talking to daddy's Mom and Dad."  I had to not laugh out loud - he thought Darryl's Uncle and Janet were his mom and dad . .it made us all giggle a little :-)
 The boys love following Grandma around - I even heard the words, "I'm going to follow you everywhere, grandma" said by one of the boys.

 The boys waited and waited and finally we got to go on a boat ride.
They had so much fun walking from one end of the boat to the other, looking over the side. 
 They finally settled in by Grandpa and he let them honk the horn as much as they wanted . . ..
 . . . .and then let the steer the boat too. 

 The whole group!  I love group photos :-)
 This is Darryl's Uncle Jim and his wife Janet.  I love this photo with the boys standing right by them. 

The night ended with a great bonfire and smores.  Josh worked very hard at roasting his own marshmallows and I'm not quite sure how no one ended up with a burning marshmallow in their face but all in all, he did ok :-) 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Homeschool Happenings . . .kinda

We had a busy weekend - so busy that I never got a chance to even write the a simple Father's Day Post for yesterday nor to put together the post I wanted to write for today but just as a teaser .  ..  .

I have 90% of our curriculum in hand.  I'm working on printing some things  . . . .wrap my mind around a timeframe . . .. and gather the last 10% of the items I need.  I've had some true budget blessings like someone actually giving me the phonics curriculum that sells used for $250 or more.  The US history study we will use as a suppliment for several years was 30% off a few weeks ago and the PE supplement I was looking at was also free for Teacher Appreciation Week a few months ago or so  I was also able to find a few things on Amazon for a much lesser price as well. 

With that said, this week we are busy with Vacation Bible School every night this week and a family gathering this coming weekend followed by surgery week.  I'm hoping to get some posts written during the day and even get ahead but I also have lots of projects to finish up and lots of play time with the kids this week too.  It's about time for me to get in that pool since it is warming up this week!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Water Fun

First, let me state that I am LOVING this summer.  The weather is near perfect and by "near perfect" I mean that it has been in the 70's with lots of sunshine and very little humidity.  We have only had to shut up the house and cool it down with the window units one weekend so far which is just fabulous.  I'm soaking up my kind of summer as much as I can because I'm sure the killer heat will show up eventually!

With that said, the sun has made it warm enough outside for the boys to starting asking for some water fun!  Last week we pulled out the sprinkler and boy, did they play in the water for hours!!

 Josh trying to water the garden with the water but instead he watered himself!
 Nate just trying to spray Josh :-)

They loved pulling the sprinkler around the hard and, yes, for the record, my kitchen got a little wet.  Note to self:  Shut the kitchen window when the kids have the sprinkler out hahaha
 Joshua just hanging out and having fun!

The boys also have been asking for me to put the pool up.  I bought a new pool this year -one with a filter and all that fun stuff so I don't have to empty it every day like I did with the little plastic pool we've used the last few years.  I kept saying that it takes more work but Nate told me that it was "Three easy steps Mom" and proceeded to show me on the box that you just had to 1)Blow it up 2)Lay it out 3)and put water in it.  I finally told them we would do it on Sunday.  Now, to keep it real, I was beyond excited to get up on Sunday morning to a rainy morning and was already planning my afternoon of watching TV, reading, and relaxing on the wonderful rainy Sunday . . .. except my boys must have prayed extra hard because the sun was shining by the time we got home and, while I was cleaning up from lunch, they hauled all of the pull stuff out to the yard.  Their excited was unmeasurable as we worked to set upt.  Josh kept saying, "Mom, I'm your helper, I'll do whatever you need me to do." HA!

We worked and worked and finally got it set up but no one could swim in it on Sunday because it had to fill!  I finished filling it up on Monday and told the boys that they couldn't swim in it until we did the chemicals.  But, then I got to thinking, I filled it with the same water they take a bath in HA!  Yep, we fill it from the kitchen sink so that the water comes through the water softener.  Darryl and I both said - Go swimming!! - especially since they wouldn't be able to swim in it on Tuesday while we got the chemicals stabilized.  Which, for the record, made me feel DUMB!  Darryl figured it all out, though, and now we have crystal clear water and it is wonderful!