Sunday, August 31, 2014

Things my Kids Say

* We had fresh (from the neighbors garden) green beans for dinner one night last week.  Both Josh and Nate and to "dissect them" and took out all of the little beans.  Then, they took the beans outside to plant them.  Why?  So they could grow a beanstaff.  Yes, you read that write.  HA  We finally got Nate to understand it is a beanstaLK but Josh did not believe us !!!

* I love how kids interpret things.  The latest "Joshism" is when he talks to the cat and calls her "Porshesh Kitty" aka Precious Kitty.  :-)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Camping and Food

Camping is all about food; well at least a large part of it seems to be about food!  Over they years, we have kind of perfected our camp food especially since we generally only camp for two nights.  Well, we THOUGHT we had it all perfected until our most recent trip when we did everything completely differently.

This time around I tried to plan food for less eating out but that totally backfired HA!  Listed below were our plans and what we really did!

The plan: I precooked Brats to take with us and planned to roast Hot Dogs and Brats over the fire.  I had also made Potato Salad and a new recipe for Macaroni Salad (not our favorite so I won't be sharing).  Plus there were chips and stuff for S'mores too.
The Reality: 
Yep, McDonald's.  I mentioned this already but, well laid plans of mice and men do not always work out well.  We arrived about an hour later than we planned and then, it took us almost 3 hours to set up camp so by the time we were done we were STARVING and STILL had to get wood, start a fire and let it get hot enough to cook.  Thankfully those Golden Arches are all of 10 minutes away so we enjoyed a relaxing dinner there instead. 
After stopping to get wood on our way back to camp, the boys asked for Ice Cream so we stopped at our traditional ice cream place and all got a cone. 

For the record, once we got the stubborn fire going (we had some pretty wet wood which we don't usually get from "our" great wood guy) we did roast a few marshmallows for S'mores before the night was done.

Breakfast - The Plan - We love cooking breakfast at the campground.  Thanks to an electric skillet and a simple toaster, breakfast is wonderful.  We had bacon, eggs, bagels, and fruit.  Other than the cream cheese being frozen thanks to me putting it under the little freezer in the little fridge we have (it came with the camper!) the "Plan" is exactly what we ate!

Lunch - The Plan - 
We love Bernie O's pizza in North Muskegon and we always plan to eat one meal there. Often we eat dinner there on Friday evening but opted for Lunch this time.  It was as good as always and, like always, we ordered too much food.  I think we finally have it figured out though - One small order of breadsticks (mostly for Nate since he isn't a fan of pizza), 1 small pizza for Josh with just cheese (it's like $3.99 - that's not bad and he eats the whole thing) and a pizza for Darryl and I.  :-)  So, yes, the plan is exactly what we ate for lunch

Dinner - The Plan -  Our normal Saturday evening dinner has almost always been steak kabobs that have been marinated all day, Fried Zucchini and the salads that I always make to bring with us.  That did not happen this year.  We had gone to the beach during the afternoon (which was a BLAST).  By the time we got home and I got the boys and I through the shower (which was like a sauna room made worse by a 90 degree day with humidity) I was well beyond over heated and needed to lay in front of the fan for awhile.  Darryl got a very stubborn fire going again but by that time the last thing I wanted to do is really cook. 

The Reality - 
Josh asked to roast hot dogs over the fire so that is exactly what we did - the boys and Darryl had a hot dog and I had left over pizza :-)  Throw in the salads and chips and we were good.  I will admit that this time frame of our camping day we got a little discouraged.  Darryl and I realized that one of the things we love about camping is taking off for part of the day Saturday and exploring the area.  So yes, we got a little bit bored but then we decided to go for drive and get ice cream again, see the sun setting over the lake and just get away for a bit and that was all we needed.  We came back to camp and had so much for fun over the next few hours with the boys until they literally crashed!

The Plan - Breakfast - I like to keep breakfast simple on the last day and that is exactly what we did.  It was just cereal, bagels, fruit, and donuts.  On our outing to the store on Saturday after pizza, the boys picked out donuts.

The Plan - Lunch - Our plan was to stop at fast food after loading up and heading home and that is exactly what we did.  Taco Bell never tasted so good after being so hot from tearing everything down!

We did take snacks - chips, crackers, fruit, popcorn and more - way too much HA!  I'll pack a little differently next time and take less food but, hey, at least we never went hungry!



Friday, August 29, 2014

Food Friday - Crazy Brownies

Crazy Brownies
adapted from Pioneer Woman

I debated what new recipe to share this week but decided on these awesome brownies because they would be great to take to a Labor Day Party!  Often, when I make a dessert, we eat about 1/2 of it and then it kinda sits for the week.  We might nibble on it but I end up throwing a good portion of it away.  Well, these brownies were gone in about 24 hours HA!  Yes, they are that good!  The brownie mix (made from a cake mix) is so moist and tasty - then add all of the candy in the middle well, oh my!  I KNOW I will make this for the next pot-luck or picnic I attend! 


1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted, plus more for greasing pan
1 box chocolate cake mix (18 ounces)
1/3 cup evaporated milk
9 peanut butter cups
12 chocolate-covered caramels, such as Rolos
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup candy-coated chocolates, such as M and Ms
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar, for sprinkling


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan.

Put the dry cake mix in a large bowl and stir in the evaporated milk. (The mixture will still be dry.) Next, pour in the melted butter, stirring gently until the mix just comes together (don't over-mix).

Divide the mixture in half and press half of it in the bottom of the prepared pan. Lay the peanut butter cups over the top. Peel the caramels and place them in the spaces between. Sprinkle the nuts into the cracks, followed by the chocolate candies. Finally, sprinkle the salt all over. Put the other half of the batter on a cutting board and press it into a square a little smaller than the pan (it will be very sticky). Transfer it to the pan and lightly press it to cover all the ingredients.

Bake until the batter is fully baked, 22 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then place the pan in the fridge, covered in foil, for a couple of hours.

Remove the brownies from the pan in one piece, then sprinkle on plenty of powdered sugar. With a sharp serrated knife, cut into small squares.

Gobble 'em up!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Weekly Menu - The one with Labor Day Weekend

We are slowly getting into our new routine with School each day and then, soon, the munchkin will be heading out daily to his preschool.  Fall is coming which means I can start adding some favorite recipes back into the menu and I'm so excited! 

Here's the plan for this week:

Saturday - We are ALL hungry for some burgers - Josh has been asking for them for a few weeks - so it will be burgers and Corn on the Cob for dinner tonight!

Sunday - Stuffed Shells, Garlic Bread and Green Beans YUM! 

Monday - Labor Day!  We are going to do brunch today - Eggs, Bacon, Toast, Pancakes and Sausage.  Fabulous!  Then, for dinner we will have burgers again and French Fries with some Strawberry Shortcake for dessert! 

Tuesday - One of my favorite money saving foods is . . Ham Steaks.  They are only about 3 dollars for a steak and they feed all of us.  So, tonight, we'll have Potatoes, Green Beans and Ham in the crock pot with Rolls. 

Wednesday - Lasagna, Garlic Bread and Green Beans - I can't wait for this . . .one of my all time favorite meals!  Plus, I love to freeze the left overs and use them for lunch later :-)

Thursday - Pan Fried Pork Chops, Mac and Cheese, Corn and Rolls

Friday - TACOS!  This is a no brainer :-)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Camping Planning

This past weekend we went camping for the first time in 2 years.  Last year, we planned to camp with our tent but as each reserved weekend approached, we checked the weather and saw oodles and oodles of rain so we cancelled.  This year, we had planned to camp several times this summer but Darryl's surgery date was pushed to the end of June which left us hoping for camping by the end of August.  Thankfully, it worked out!!  We've come a long way from our first camping days.  The first summer we camped for the very first time, we used a borrowed tent that was, well, old.  The second evening, it blew down in a gust of wind and was done for - we had to pack up and go home at midnight.  We purchased a new tent later that summer and enjoyed a great vacation Labor Day Weekend despite having our truck broken into and things stolen (I did get my camera back and that was really all that mattered!).  Darryl and I were laughing about the fact that the first few years we camped we were "glampers" in the sense that every morning we got up, went to the showers, and got ready for the day including him shaving and me blowing drying/curling my hair and putting on make-up.  This past weekend - somehow I ended up in the shower once without soap because it got left behind by my husband in his shower and the second time, it was only a quick rinse off in my bathing suit with the boys after swimming in the lake.  Yikes! 

I will toot my own horn and say that as of two years ago, I was one of the most organized, well planned campers around.  I had everything down to three bins - two that always stayed packed and one food bin.  I had lists and plans and knew exactly where everything was and could pack up the truck in about 20 minutes.  Throwing kids in the mix makes it a little more complicated though especially now that they are older and require more stuff HA! 

This is how I plan:
The first step is that I do a basic overview of the days we are going to be gone, what needs to be done, the recipes, activities and anything else special.  I tend to do this about 2-3 weeks before the trip because it allows me time to pull together any crafts or special activities, change items or look up directions to whatever is needed (or where ever we are going!)  I can almost guarantee that this list will change by at least 75% by the final packing!

About a week before our trip, my list turns into this three columns of sweetness.  By this point I've changed the meal plans to something more concrete so the first column is every single food/meal making item I need.  I put the items in bold that I need to purchase but then just list everything so I know what I need.  The second column is everything needed for activities/crafts for the kids.  Again, I use bold to show what I need to purchase.  The final column is my misc. column - I just list everything that doesn't fit the other two categories!  Again, this is not set in stone but it does give me something to go by when I start shopping.  One of my favorite things to do this time was to go to the Dollar Store first and look for items for camping - especially for the kids - like glow sticks, army figures, small trucks and cheap, cheap playdough. 

The final list!  This is my brain for the weekend to make sure we have it all!  I usually take time to type this up (using the previous lists as helpful guides) about 2-3 days before the trip so I can start gathering things.  This includes everything from food items to pack, craft items to pack and everything else including a folding chair for Darryl :-) See how "Shims" is circled . .. those were to help start the fire and guess what we forgot? YIKES!  We managed but we won't forget the bundle of shims next time!   Funny side story, we had everything packed and loaded - I went back into the house to check that everything was off and lock the doors.  Guess what was sitting in the dining room?  The bag full of mine and Darryl's clothes OOPS!  Good thing I went back inside! 

Truth be told, my packing this time was a little crazy.  As this was the first time with the pop-up we really learned that I need to pack differently and we need to return to the idea of bins for everything and not pack in bags thinking there is tons of room for stuff in the pop-up!  (There isn't!)  Which brings me to the last part of my planning -- it is making a list of what I need to change or ideas to make things easier.  Here's a few of the brainstorming ideas that Darryl and I talked about:

1) Pack less food :-)  We don't tend to camp in the middle of no where so we can (and usually do) go to the store every day just to get out somewhere.  Instead, just pack what we really need.  I plan on spending a little extra in the future and purchase individual packages of things like chips, cookies and cereal.  This way, we can open what we want and not have full bags of chips or full boxes of cereal open and getting stale all weekend. 
2) Use a large rubbermaid bin for the food - stuff doesn't get crushed and then, we just keep that bin in the truck all weekend which keeps it out of the way but easy to get to anytime we need a snack.  We also tend to like to keep the coolers in the truck too so if we take off for the day we have everything we need for an impromptu picnic
3) Plan a simple pre-prepped meal for the first night.  This time I had planned Hot Dogs/Brats but - by the time we got there, got the camper and camp set up and STILL needed to go get wood . . .well, it was already 6:30 and we were HUNGRY so we ended up heading to town and getting McDonald's.  Next time I plan to have something simple like tacos so we can put the meat in the crockpot as soon as we get there to heat up and be ready to eat when we are hungry!!
4) Have a bin in the camper for "stuff" - by "bin" I mean a small container where we can throw bug spray, keys, even a phone so it doesn't fall out of a pocket.  Several times Darryl said, "I don't know where to put stuff". 

Anyway - we are learning as we go that's for sure.  We are tentatively hoping and praying to be able to camp one more time this fall because the boys love it so much but even if we don't we ARE planning to camp often next summer and look forward to perfecting our planning.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Two Wheeler

Our boys love their training wheels.  We've tried and tried to get them to want to take those training wheels off but to no avail!  Out of the blue a week ago Josh said he wanted to ride a bike without training wheels.  Since the boys each have a regular size bike now, we took the training wheels off the teeny tiny bike and let the boys go! 

 I had to share this photo - our gigantic sunflower outside the garage door has opened!!  This brought huge excitement at our house.
 Nate riding on his new bike since he had outgrown the teeny bike.  Josh riding the teeny bike minus training wheels.

 Love that face of total concentration. 

 Nate is very determined to be as good, if not better, than his big brother. 
 (Side note - Josh found some rope and was pretending he was using a lasso . . .)

Nate working on staying up on two wheels!

Both boys are doing well with the lack of training wheels.  Josh even told us while camping that he was ready to have the training wheels off of his bigger bike now too.  I will say that we don't have those photos of the parent holding onto the back of a bike and then letting go because all I hear is "Let go of the bike I can do it on my own." hahahaha 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Homeschool Happenings - The First Day

Today, after a busy weekend of camping, is our first day of Kindergarten.  That is just crazy.  After lots of planning, changing plans and prepping plans it is time to get busy.  The boys are excited to learn to read, learn all about numbers, and have fun!  It seems odd that I don't have much to say today since it is our first day but I've shared what we are doing, the curriculum we are using and more in past posts so today is the "breathing room" post.  We are having "afternoon" Kindergarten as the munchkin will be going to afternoon preschool starting next week.  This will allow the boys time to play together and then allow me time to teach while he's gone and the princess is napping.  At least that is the plan :-)

So, next week I'm sure I"ll have lots to share!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Things My Kids Say (and sometimes my husband)

* Darryl and the boys were heading out to get his hair cut.  He was frantically looking for his phone and was pretty upset at himself for setting it down somewhere and having to look for it.  He finally brought me my phone and had me call his . .. which rang . . .in his pocket!! hahahaha I seriously was rolling on the floor laughing as he walked out the door saying, "What?  I have no idea why you are laughing." hahahaha

*Needless to say, my kids are at the ages where learning to obey is a tough, trying task.  They tend to want to do things "one more time" after we tell them something.  In one discussion recently, we were letting the boys know we would not be taking electronics with us while camping giving them the reasons why.  Josh piped up with, "Well, I'm supposed to obey Papa and he let me bring his Nabi (Ipad) camping in their yard and he let me play with it in the yard so that means I can since he is the most important person to obey."  Well, there ya have it folks, Josh DOES obey HA!  We then had to explain that these were our rules and when he's with us he has to follow our rules :-)

* Nate has a cold.  So, periodically I hear, "Mom."  I ask him what he wants and he says, "Nothing, I was just listening to see if my voice is right yet."  Couldn't he pick a different word? LOL

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Testing out the Camper

For years we've wanted to purchase some sort of camper and who would have thought that the time one "fell in our laps" would be when Darryl was off work recovering from surgery.  We had a very very low budget but wanted something that was nice that we could use for years.  Well, that's hard to come by, let me tell you.  We had already resigned ourselves to not getting one until next year when maybe we could increase our budget slightly when a friend of ours heard we were looking.  Turns out her family purchased a pop-up quite a few years ago because she loves camping.  Now, though, her kids are grown and don't want to go and her husband is not a camper.  It hadn't been used in two years and she offered to sell it to us for the amount we had said we had to spend and she included everything in it.  That alone was incredible as it included things like an outdoor rug for under the camper canopy, a mini-fridge, cooking stuff, and more.  So it was really a "God thing" - he worked out the details, the financing and even how to get it to us (my parents!)

A few weeks ago I needed to set it up (to make sure I remembered everything my dad taught me two weeks before!) so that I could go through everything, reorganize it and also go through out camping stuff and make a list of what we need for camping.  Because we were setting it up, the boys wanted to "camp out". 

 Our camping "home".  It's fabulous (and over 20 years old!) and in near perfect condition.  The boys all have jobs that they do including the fact that Josh turns the crank to set the whole thing up!  We plan, Lord willing, to have this camper for a good 10 years.  By then the boys will be almost full grown and us old people will need to get a small camper that we don't have to set up HA!

 The boys had a blast (yes, they had been swimming before setting up the camper). 
 A view from the inside.
 Darryl with his brace :-)
 The boys moved in HA!  Sleeping bags, pillows, stuffed animals and flashlights.
Darryl tried out the bed with pillows, extra quilts and even more pillows . . .but we discovered he needs some cushions to sleep on so we'll be hauling the couch cushions with us when we camp HA! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Food Friday - Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos
adapted from . .. .several recipes to create my own! (that doesn't happen often)
As you may or may not know, we love tacos in this house.  Yes, we love the good "old-fashioned" version but I've been venturing out and trying some different versions.  One of the best things about this meal is we ALL love them - Nate likes his with just cheese, ketchup and broken chips but at least we are all eating our own version of Tacos!  Several times when we've gone out to dinner I've gotten fish tacos and have loved them so I decided to try my own recipe.  I searched and searched and finally came up with a version I thought we would like and made it!  The meat guy at the grocery store helped me pick out the best fish for my tacos and even helped me get the right amount so I wouldn't have much - if any- left over.  

Ingredients/Directions for Fish
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstartch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup chicken stock (or milk)
1 pound cod filets, cut into 2-3 ounce portions
oil for frying

To make the batter:  In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.  Blend egg and chicken stock, then quickly stir into the flour mixture (don't worry about a few lumps.)

Heat oil in deep-fryer or deep frying pan to 375 degrees.  Dust fish pieces lightly with flour.  Dip into the batter and fry until crisp and golden brown.  Drain on paper towels

Ingredients/Directions for Topping
1/2 head of cabbage, sliced thin (I just bought a bag of cole slow mix)
1/2 cup Milk
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1 teaspoon White vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoons pepper

Taco Shells
Pico De Gallo
Lime Wedges

Mix the milk, mayo, white vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper together and pour over the cabbage.  Mix well - it should be wetter than normal "cole slaw".

To make tacos - lay a couple of pieces of fish on the taco shell, top with the Cole Slaw mix, a little Pico De Gallo and squeeze some lime juice on top.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Weekly Menu - The one that includes camping

This coming weekend we are going camping..  Have you ever noticed that when you are outside you eat more?  There is just something about being outside and sitting around a fire that just makes you want to eat HA!  Well, here's our eating plan for the next week :-)

I know I said last week that I would share our camping food in a separate post but I'm going to include it all here since it is pretty standard :-)

Friday - I debated on what to cook this first night but finally decided that we would have Hot Dogs and Brats roasted over the fire.  Yes, I pre-cook the brats at home so that we are just "roasting" them to get that great flavor.  I also made Potato Salad and Macaroni Salad to use for several meals and, of course, chips (and ketchup).  We'll have stuff for s'mores to have for a snack.

Saturday - Breakfast - I love this while camping - Bacon (makes the whole campground smell good!), eggs, toast, pop-tarts and cereal (the boys favorite things!).  Lunch will be a trip to our all time favorite pizza place - Bernie O's.  Then later for dinner we will do steak kabobs over the fire - I marinate a sirloin steak and we just put the pieces on hot dog sticks and roast them until they are done - fried zucchini and the salads mentioned above.  Again, we'll have s'more stuff but also at some point today we'll take a trip to the Ice Cream Stand and get a treat.

Sunday - Breakfast is always more simple the second day.  Cereal, Pop-Tarts, Donuts, and Bagels (for me!).  We'll be packing up after that and will stop at McDonald's on the way out - we can eat cheap!  Then for dinner, it will be left overs from camping and/or Mac and Cheese.

Monday - I'm not sure why I planned our school schedule this way but today is our first day of school.  So we will go out to dinner to celebrate.  I'm thinking even the Chinese place - it's cheap and the boys love it.

Tuesday - Philly Cheesesteaks, leftover salads from camping and chips.

Wednesday - Sausage Gravy and Biscuits, Eggs, and Fruit

Thursday - Chicken Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Corn and Rolls.

The amazing thing to me is that coming up next is Labor Day Weekend.  When did that happen and where did this fabulous summer go?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Photo Fun

We've had lots of fun around here the last few weeks so I thought I'd share some photos of whats been going on!

The boys love to help with my flower garden.  They know to pick the "dead" flowers and are very serious with their given task.
 So, Josh was taking a bath one night and I walked in, walked back out and got the camera, came back and got some fun photos.  This one makes me laugh out loud every single time.
Nate just being silly.  I like this photo because he still looks like a "toddler" . . .even though he is totally 100% little boy!

So, I attempted to take some photos of the boys recently and the photos above show you that I was not successful HA!  Squinty eyes and funny smiles is all I could get!
 We have a sunflower.  It's huge.  Yes, that's Nate standing next to it.  Ironically we didn't plant this group this year but last year the boys played with a big sunflower head that came off one our plants and it ended up sitting in that spot for a bit.  Obviously it dropped some seeds!
 One of the many roads that the boys built.  In the rain.
 The boys love playing instruments and creating a band. 
They also love playing games on the Ipads before bed :-) 

We had excitement at our house recently - they worked on our road.  Needless to say, we sat on the front porch and watched for quite awhile. 

Dinner time!  I've been informed that we can have tacos every single night for dinner because they love them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cakes and Cup Cakes

A few weeks ago, Josh saw a cookbook in the checkout lane at the grocery store and wanted to buy it. It was all about cakes, cupcakes and other fun cake things (Like cake pops).

He read it from cover to cover, then "read" it to Nate.  They proceeded to read it every night after they were supposed to be in bed (hahaha) and Josh carried it everywhere.  He even took it to Pizza Hut when we went and showed the waitress!  Then . . .he left it outside on accident and it rained.  Hard.  I had to go buy a new one it rained so hard.  (yes, it was ruined HA!)  The boys each picked out a cake they wanted to make and this is what we made:

 Nate picked a race car cake.  My fingers were black from the food coloring to make the racetrack and we ran out of regular M and M's so we had to use some peanut M and M's but all in all it turned out well. 
Josh picked out these rainbow frosted cupcakes.  Yes, that is a full rainbow of frosting - each layer a different color.  It was quite the task to get that frosting on there especially since what I used wasn't nearly as thick as the book showed!  The funny thing?  Josh never ate one of these because he said he doesn't really like frosting.  He ate the M and M off the top of one and took a bite out of one cupcake but that was it! 

We had fun though.  It was a family activity and I will admit that the reason it got done is because Darryl offered great ideas along the way otherwise I would have given up !  I will also admit that I am glad the boys forgot about the cook book for now . . .making those two desserts made me realize that I don't really want to decorate cakes :-)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Homeschool Happenings - Why I Quit the Co-Op

We are gearing up for the start of Kindergarten in just a matter of days (ok, like 14ish).  The boys are counting down the "sleeps", they keep asking me to start NOW when they see me doing prep work, they get excited as the last few things come in the mail and they got to go school supply shopping on Saturday.

Part of my planning process this summer was to do a lot of praying about participating in the homeschool co-op group that we've been part of the past few years including me being on the board.  Ultimatly, I made the decision to resign and pull the boys out.  While there are benefits to being part of a homeschool group but I've found that when you homeschool you often get pressure to make sure your kids are "socialized" or "well-rounded".  Guess what?  I've decided to let go of that pressure so here's a short list of why I quite the co-op:

1.  We are not morning people.  Going to co-op requires us to be up, dressed, fed, and have smiles on our faces as we head out the door by 8:00 on a Friday morning.  It's not easy, trust me.  I'm not awake, the boys are draggin', and we struggle to get in the door still smiling!

2.  The variety of classes is very small.  As I looked at the class offerings for the "Kinders", where both boys would be this year, I noticed that they would be teaching the same curriculum that I am using with them.  Now, I know that repetition is always good but considering the fact they would be doing the same worksheets, singing the same songs, and doing the same activities, I decided that to have to actually do #1 above for repetition, well, it just wasn't worth it.

3. I am not a gun-totin', homesteadin', live off the land, die-hard republican.  Ok, ok, yes, I'm doing exactly what I don't like, I'm stereotyping HA!  But in reality I had started to notice a political under current within the homeschool group and spoke up several times as a board member to say that we shouldn't do something because it made us "political".  I am not the stereotypical homeschooler - instead I'm a teacher - one with two degrees in education - that just wants to teach my kids.  And yes, I feed my kids processed food and drink Soda.  :-)

4. Most of the "big" homeschool bloggers I follow and enjoy do not attend a co-op.  That was my realization that it is not a requirement.  Your kids will survive :-)

5. As a board member, I ran into a few very important issues to me that were not be listened too.  One involved screening adults for the safety of our kids.  I finally realized that I really didn't have a voice on the board and didn't like that nor did I feel comfortable with a few decisions that were made concerning those screening areas.  That is what finally made me step away.

6.  My kids will be well-rounded and socialized.  First, they attend church on Sunday.  They shake hands (and sometimes hide haha), go to junior church, run around the gym with the other kids of all ages during fellowship time and then attend Sunday School with a fabulous teacher.  This fall they will be attending AWANA - Cubbies and Sparks - which means they will be playing games, learning verses, and hearing Bible truths while hanging with friends from church and other kids that come from the neighborhood.  In just a few weeks the boys will play soccer again with kids they do not know.  They already have learned about how to deal with a bully have the spring season.  Add to those activities that they have kids that come to the house every day, have met a few neighborhood kids (even if they are strange . . .it is the nature of our town), and will be doing other activities this fall/winter like swimming lessons, bowling lessons (hopefully) and other fun stuff I can find.

So, as you can see, there are plenty of good reasons for us to Quite the Co-op.  I'm not against the Co-Op at all and we may go back in a few years when the boys are older and there are some different options for them as far as classes or we may do other things like homeschool activities at local Museums or the Zoo.  We'll just wait and see!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Things My Kids Say . .. Kinda

Apparently my kids have been quiet this week because I don't have any fun and crazy things to say. 

The boys and Darryl have been playing games and building houses out of Lincoln Logs - anything they can do sitting at the table.  Those boys love having their dad home right now! They've also been busy building roads using the scrap wood in the garage - even building a racetrack at one point.  Speaking of race tracks my boys have decided they love NASCAR.  Seriously.  I  never thought I would hear, "Lets watch the races today" in our house but, well, we hear that often.  They also love Monster Trucks, Dirt Bikes and Motorcycles.  Yes, they are boys. 

They are also counting down days until we go camping AND until we start school so their is lots of excitement in our house right now! Not to mention counting down days until their birthdays and Christmas.  And it was "decided" today that they both want to be Pirates again . . the same ones they were last year.  Now, I know, that this tends to change a few times before Halloween but for now, it appears we already have their costumes on hand - I just need to make sure they still fit :-)

So, my kids may be "quiet" but they sure do have a lot to say!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Planner, Planning, Plans . . ..

I had planned to finally get back into full time blogging this week but, as I mentioned before, I got hit with the stomach flu Sunday evening so my well laid plans did not happen!  I do plan on getting back into my daily blogging again and already have the next 3 weeks planned out. 

A couple of years ago, I jumped on the Erin Condren planner bandwagon and ordered my first planner.  I will admit that I did not use it - I ended up picking up something different half way through the year.  I then ordered a different planner last year but again, it just wasn't perfect.  Well, last December I got sucked in again and ordered my Erin Condren planner.  I decided that this time I WOULD make it work for me.  It has taken almost 6 months but I am not using it to fully plan my week.  I don't have lists laying around nor am I typing out a to do list every day but rather, I plan my week, write it down and cross it off.

 Here's a snapshot of my week-at-a-glance.  On Sunday, I take time to write down everything I want to get done during the week.  I do have a master to do list that I keep (it's the paper shown above laying on the planner) and that paper holds my "brain".  I take basic weekly things like laundry, grocery shopping and budgeting and fit those in first then I add things from my list.  For example, this month, I'm focusing on deep cleaning the dining room so each day I list a task to do in the dining room or I'm trying to work on scrapbooking so I list one thing I want to get done each day.  I also, at the bottom of each page, list the main course for dinner (so I know if I need to prep something for dinner) as well as the blog topic for the day.
 This also allows me to list appointments on a given day AND make notes about the day (notice the big "SICK" on Monday!
As I work through the week the list actually gets smaller until I get to Friday where the main item is "finish tasks from the week".  I know that I will never get through everything on every day so Friday gives me time to catch up.

I also use the sides to make notes - songs to sing, Christmas gift ideas, or something funny someone says.  

Yes, I take my planner just about everywhere with me.  It fits in my purse or in my Sunday-go-to-church bag so I always have it handy for planning. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Weekly Menu - The one where we will go camping!

So, last week did not go completely as planned!  Last Saturday we met my niece-in-law for brunch, which was fabulous!  Then, we came home and I worked for about 5-6 hours on cleaning out our camper, going through our camping stuff and repacking everything nice and neat.  By the time I was done, the last thing I wanted to do was cook anything so we went and grabbed some dinner.  Sunday evening as we were praying with the boys I felt the awful wave of sickness came over me and even prayed that I was not getting the flu.  Well, guess what, within an hour I was taking a Zophran to curb the nausea YUCK!  I was sick all day Monday but, thankfully it was a true 24 hour bug and by Monday late afternoon was slowly feeling human again.  Dinner ended up being whatever I could put together from the fridge.  Tuesday I still wasn't feeling great but I made stuffed shells, left over from a previous week's menu . . .and then on Wednesday I ended up with a Worship Committee Meeting at church so we all ate left overs again. HA!

This coming weekend we have a long awaited camping trip to look forward to also and we cannot wait! 

Saturday - BBQ Chicken Pizza and frozen pizza for the kids.

Sunday - Chicken Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, corn and Rolls

Monday - My parents will be here for dinner so .  .I haven't decided what to cook yet.  :-)

Tuesday -Steak Fingers and gravy, Lemon Orzo Salad w/asparagus and tomatoes and rolls

Wednesday - Sausage Gravy and Biscuits, Fried Eggs and Fruit Salad

Thursday - We will be going out - my guess is Smashburger - since Darryl needs to go into town to the hospital to get x-rays again before his next doctor's appointment.

Friday - CAMPING!  I'll be sharing about camping in upcoming posts :-)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Things my kids say

* Every night before bed, we all pray together.  Josh almost always prays, "Dear Jesus, I love you AMEN".  Nate likes to pray silently so he sticks his head under his pillow and prays.  When he is done, he says, "Amen".  Lately, though, once he is done, he whispers in my ear, "Mom, I said Praise to God and prayed for Daddy's back"  I think it is so awesome!!!

*Josh told me that he hurt his head at Papa and Nana's.  He said his fingernail was ridiculously long and he just sharped his head.   Ok, it doesn't sound as funny written down but when he was telling the story, it was funny.

* Somehow, at lunch the other day, the boys started talking about the fact that they were old.  Nate piped up and said, "Well, Papa is REALLY old."  Josh continued on with his conversation for a bit and then, again, Nate said, "Well, Papa and Nana are old."  Josh said, "At least they can still run around!"  Then Nate laughed and said, "Nana can't run at all!!!!" hahahahahaha 

* Recently Josh was talking to Nana and told her that they wouldn't be coming over so much any more because they are getting older.  Yes, he is a little excited about turning 6 before too much longer!

* A few weeks ago my parents brought over a pop up camper for us (a long awaited, God-given, answered to prayer!).  Josh and Nate had already seen it since it arrived at my parents house while they were staying there.  We pulled up beside my parents and Josh told Papa, "I already mom all about how to open the camper so you don't have to show her anything.'  My dad told him that there were some little things he needed to still show me.  Josh told him, "No, I told her all of those things too."  (And you know what, when we put it up - he remember most of it!)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Weekly Menu

Last weeks menu stayed pretty close on track except we did go out to eat on Monday night for our anniversary - just to our local Big Boy but they have really good fish and chips (and onion rings . . .. and blue cheese dressing) so it was all good. 

There was no real food prep last week - I cut up a watermelon but otherwise, I had veggies to use from the previous week AND we had fresh stuff from the garden.  My neighbor brought us stuff (a pepper, cucumbers and a huge onion) and we got a zucchini and lots of cherry tomatoes from our garden.

So here is the plan for this week:

Saturday  - Burgers and and Fries :-)  What better meal to have on a summer evening when the grillin' is good!

Sunday - Stuffed Shells, Green Beans and Garlic Bread - it can all be prepped before church and just takes 30 minutes to cook after :-) 

Monday - Chicken Gyros, Hot Dogs (for the kids), Fried Zucchini, Fruit and Chips

Tuesday - BBQ Chicken Pizza (for the adults) and frozen pizza for the kids

Wednesday -Ham and Cheese Quiche and Blueberry coffee cake - a leftover from last weeks menu :-)

Thursday -Easy Philly Cheesesteaks, Amish Sweet Macaroni Salad and fruit salad

Friday - Sweet and Sour Tacos w/ beans, chips, and salsa.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Things My Kids Say

* We were teasing about snoring the other day when Nate pipes up with, "You should hear Papa and Nana snore." We all burst out laughing and of course we had to keep asking questions so we asked the boys if they really snore.  Josh said, "Yes, Nana snores like this  . .. " and proceeded to sound EXACTLY like her HA!  Than Nate said, "They must be really tired because they snore ALOT.  It was the funniest thing ever!!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A few of my (current) favorite things

I haven't done this in awhile but I thought I'd share a few of my favorite things as of right now:

So, a cook book like this one has become very important in our house.  Josh saw one similiar to this in the store last week and we bought it.  They boys have looked through it so much that pages were bent an curled; they looked at it every night and picked out all the cakes they want to make.  Josh even carried it to Pizza Hut and  showed the waitress the cakes HA!  Sadly, the boys were cleaning up the yard after we got back from the eating and Josh left it outside . . .and then it down poured.  Needless to say, we will be heading back to the store today to buy another one so that we can (attempt) to make 2 cakes.

I bought this last week because it reminded of college and I was not disappointed.  One of my favorite Saturday evening meals (because the dining hall on weekends - especially Saturday evenings - was gross) was to order a Pizza Fry from the Rec. Hall and take it back to dorm to eat while reading or studying.  Really, they are just cheese breadsticks with sauce to dip but they are just so good!  I will be stocking my freezer  with them again HA!

Ok, I seldom buy Ben and Jerry's ice cream.  It is pricey and you don't get alot but it is premium ice cream and very good.  It just so happens that it was on sale AND I had a coupon so I was able to get it for under $2.00.  I picked out this flavor since I love pistachio's and it did not disappoint.  Yum! 

I don't have a picture of this but I love my kids VBS CD.  Why?  Because THEY love it.  They ask to listen to it, sing it, and dance like crazy.  Nate has memorized words and loves to tell us those words he knows.