Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Fun

This past weekend we had big plans.  Plans that had been on the calendar for months and months.  It was the weekend of Nate - the weekend to celebrate his birthday which is the 22nd.  But, we live where it snows and snow it did.  Friday night into Saturday followed by some freezing rain and well, all of our plans changed!

I had enough warning though that on Thursday night (So much time to plan HA!) I picked up the supplies to make some simple gingerbread houses and the supplies to make Christmas cookies.

 I found a great video tutorial on Facebook from The Penny Hoarder that showed how to make a gingerbread house for less than $5.00.  It was pretty close.  The base is a box of Gold Fish crackers (like a milk carton we all used to get in school) and then use Graham Crackers and Frosting to build the house.  I got most of the supplies at the dollar store so it was really in expensive.

For first timers, their houses turned out great.  I learned a few things this year and I think next year will be even better.

We also had fun watching some movies.  I had recorded Frozen when it aired on one of the channels a few weeks ago so we watched that and then we watched Elf.  The boys laughed and, quite honestly, are so enthralled with Santa right now that they loved the whole premise.

Finally, the boys cut out and decorated cookies today.  This was also a first.  I did take photos but, considering that both boys were in underwear while doing it (they are crazy) I decided not to share HA!

So, even though our plans have been delayed - we still ended up with a great weekend with lots of Christmas fun.

Ironically, just this past week I was feeling like we've been too busy this year with other things to really enjoy the fun Christmas things.  Last year I really worked hard to "protect" our Christmas and made sure we enjoyed the season, this year I felt like we were pushing to get through the basics and that was it.  So this weekend was really a great, unexpected thing and it reminded me of the importance of stopping and just enjoying life as a family.

On a side note, Nate will still get his day - we will be celebrate this coming week :-)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas Is Coming

Christmas is coming.  Can you believe it?  

Isn't that pretty?  Nope, not my house . .. but it is beautiful!

I finished up the last of the shopping on Thursday night.  Most of the gift buying was done but I still needed to get the odds and ends like batteries, bows, and balloons for the birthday boy! 
So now, it's time to wrap, gather and pack.  I have my list and I keep checking it (twice, three times and more!) trying not to forget any detail.  (If only I could find that extra set of keys that I put somewhere that I could easily find but haven't seen them in two months!) 

Another snow storm is supposed to drop another 6-10 inches this weekend.  I love a good snow storm.  I picked up the supplies to make some simple "gingerbread" houses with graham crackers and supplies to decorate Christmas cookies.  

I don't have a menu to share - it's pretty simple the rest of the weekend and then, I don't have to cook for awhile.  We have wrapped up school and are on break already (well, I said . ."I'm done!" so we are on break HA!  We do have a few odds and ends to wrap up - hopefully tomorrow!) 
So, Christmas is coming.  Family time will be a-plenty and we are all looking forward to just that, for sure.  
Now, if only my 6 (almost 7) year old would STOP changing his Christmas list . . .. every five minutes! HA! 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Weekly Menu - It's been awhile

We've been busy.  That's all.  With the holiday, Christmas things kicking into gear and planning for the holidays, I've been hoppin'!  Plus we've been pushing hard with school to finish a little earlier than planned for Christmas break meaning I have less time to get stuff done during the day since I'm spending more time on school.  I finally took time today, Friday, to plan out our menu from now until we leave for Christmas so I thought I'd share it.

Friday (Today) - Chicken and Dumplings.  My kids are not fans of Chicken and Dumplings (the tradgedy!) so the kids get Chicken Nuggets and Fries.

Saturday: We are going to finish up all Christmas shopping Saturday afternoon with the boys and then grab something to eat in town.

Sunday: After church will be a quick meal of Chicken Noodle Soup (I always use the leftovers from Chicken and Dumplings to make my Chicken Noodle Soup!) and French Bread.  Later in the evening, everyone can choose from the fridge/freezer for dinner.

Monday: I'm going to try a new recipe - One Pan Balsamic Chicken and Veggies.  I'll serve it over some pasta with garlic bread.

Tuesday: Creamy Chicken Burritos, Rice, Beans, and Chips and Cheese

Wednesday:  Darryl has practice and, quite honestly, I don't like cooking when he isn't here HA! The boys and I have been grabbing a pizza from Little Ceasers the past few Wednesdays.  It's cheap and we all like it!

Thursday: Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Corn and Biscuits

Friday: Tonight we are meeting my mom to celebrate Nate's birthday with her.

Saturday:  And today we get to eat out at Nate's choice of resturant to celebrate his birthday!

Sunday: I have a concert and Darryl is working - the boys are going to my Mother-In-Laws after church and will eat lunch with her; I'll grab lunch on the go.  A busy day!

Monday:  - It's time for vacation :-)  Yeah!  No cooking for me for over a week!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Weekly Menu - It's holiday time!

This coming week is one of the busiest cooking weeks of the year!  Thanksgiving always means lots and lots of cooking but it is all fun.

Saturday - Taco Casserole, Salad, Pico and Guacamole.

Sunday - Stuffed Shells, Salad and Garlic Bread.  Then, in the evening, our church hosts the annual Thanksgiving dinner.  I'm taking Yeast Rolls with Cinnamon butter, Mini Boston Cream Pies and Taco Salad (because I love it and that's all that matters!)

Monday - Root Beer Pulled Pork, Daddy Fries, and Fruit

Tuesday - Lemon Chicken, Baked Potatoes, Green Beans, Biscuits

Wednesday - Homemade Pizza.  Yep.  As far from Thanksgiving as we can think of :-)  This is my own tradition.  We are going to eat so much great food over the next few days that I try to do something simple the night before

Thursday - It's Turkey Day!  In my house, we wil be enjoying some snacks throughout the morning and then enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with desserts later in the afternoon.  I don't mind making a lot of food because we will eat leftovers in various forms over the next few days.

Friday - Today is true leftover day.  We will pull all of the leftovers out for dinner and I will probably make some Mac and Cheese to keep the kids happy too :-)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I'm still here . ..

Where has November gone?  I'm not sure but it's going fast.  We've been running like crazy since mid-October and, ironically, I feel like that things are slowing down as the Holidays approach.

So, I'm still here, I just haven't had time to think about blog posts OR I haven't been around to write them between field trips, kids activities, and a weekend away scrapbooking PLUS a sick dog well, I have taken on a Dory mindset, "Just keep swiming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming!"  Yesterday, I actually accomplished a lot of things around the house . . .well, except school.  The munchkin had the day off school so I let the boys play  - and they got to play outside in short sleeves because it was so warm.  Meanwhile, I talked boxes and bins that have been sitting around since . . .well for near six months.

The holidays are coming so I'm hopeful I will actually have time to regroup and get back into writing again!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Weekly Menu

Life is busy right now.  It seems as if the hours are filled and trying to fit in everything during the day just isn't possible.  The main reason that this post gets done is simply that we have to eat and in order to eat I have to plan!  I find it hard to believe that we are into November and Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away.  For now, though, I'm just focused on the coming days.  We are still trying to eat a little healthier but I've made some gross meals (usually lunches) lately so I'm tweaking it some and making sure that dinner is something we really truly like - it makes eating rice cakes with peanut but for lunch a little easier ;-)

Saturday - Fish, CousCous, Broccoli and spaghetti (for the kids - fish is not in their wheelhouse of food HA!)

Sunday - Pork Tenderloin, Mac and Cheese and Carrots.

Monday - We have a field trip so we will be eating on the road as we head for home.

Tuesday - Amish Baked Chicken, Mashed potatoes, corn and biscuits

Wednesday - Homemade Beef and Barley Soup and Garlic Sticks

Thursday - Chicken Wings and Fries

Friday - Sloppy Joes and Chips

Saturday - Darryl is on his own as I will be busy scrapbooking!!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Weekly Menu - Changes!

It's weekly menu time but I'm going to highlight some changes.  As this posts, I'm still enjoying some wonderful non-cooking time and I'm loving my break but, as we get ready to get back into the groove in the coming weeks, Darryl and I want to focus on eating healthier and changing some of our habits.  We have young kids and realize that we need to work on being a little more healthy on a daily basis.  Now, don't get me wrong, we still enjoy the good comfort food and have some fun food but if we can make these changes it will be good!!

The other thing is my new grocery store night is . .. Friday.  I know.  That's so exciting.  I was trying to go to the store during the day with the kids just to keep the nights free but it was really impacting our school time so it's back to evening shopping and Friday is a free night right now.

Here's the plan :

Friday - Monday - We are still having fun :-)

Tuesday - Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Steamed Broccoli, Brown Rice and Salad.

Wednesday - Grilled Steak Salad, Raspberries, Minestrone Soup and whole wheat rolls

Thursday - Pampered Chicken, (a new recipe that I'll share if it is good!), Broccoli, Couscous, and grapes

Friday - Mustard Crustard Fish (I'll see what looks good at the store), Brown Rice, Honeydew Melon, Asparagus, and whole wheat rolls

Doesn't it all look yummy?  I think the biggest change is just eating "fresher" and no mixed dishes like cassaroles OR pasta!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Weekly Menu

I keep thinking I will have more time to write - I even made a list of blogs to write but, days are busy right now with school, co-op and other fun things going on.  At least we are still eating ;-)

This coming week we have lots of exciting things so it makes my planning so much easier!

Friday - Josh has requested Pizza and since, we won't be eating at home on his actual birthday, this is his birthday dinner.  I don't mind not cooking :-)

Saturday - Today is Josh's birthday so we are out for day to celebrate him!

Sunday - Tacos for lunch.  Darryl is working so something nice and easy.  We are meeting my mom for dinner to celebrate Josh (of course)

Monday - The boys are at my mom's for a few days.  As much as I don't like cooking when they are gone, I do plan on cooking something simple - Chicken and veggies most likely.

Tuesday - I'm not cooking HA!  Darryl and I need a date night :-)  We don't have many choices so it will probably be just Applebees or me meeting him somewhere if he works late (as he does often).

That's my week :-)  After this we have plans for some family fun at a family wedding.  I won't have to cook again until after Halloween :-)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fall Fun

This past week we actually did have fun.  We had some really nice weather early in the week so we took advantage of it.  During the cold, snowy days of winter, we can double up on some lessons while we are stuck inside!

On Monday, after Live Lessons were done, we had to go to the laundry mat.  We then went to lunch and I surprised the kids with a trip to one of our favorite parks.  We only go to parks in the spring and fall when the weather isn't hot!  This wooden park is so much fun and to make it better, we unexpectedly ran into two other families from our home school group who have kids that my boys know well.

 Nathan running through the park. 
 Monkey Bar Fun 



On Tuesday, we took China to a dog wash station at a car wash.  She had gotten really sick on Monday and needed a bath worse than ever.  With the weather nicer, I figured that this was the time to check out this dog wash.  I was pretty impressed.  The water was warm, the sprayer had lots of soap options (just like a car wash!) and there was even a dryer.  It was all going great until I started the dryer.  My arthritic dog did a backflip out of the bathtub and landed on her feet.  My heart about did a backflip out of my chest!  Geesh China :-) 

We love our sweet pooch!! 

On Wednesday we had the opportunity to meet with my brother, Kel and sister-in-law Debby as they were passing by heading to Ohio.  It's a rare treat, since they live in Brazil, to get to share coffee together so we really enjoyed the visit.  

 The boys love their Aunt and Uncle especially because they speak Portugese :-) 

We did actually get some school work done too.  I've figured out that how I currently have the school day laid out is not working.  So I'm making some changes which will roll out the first week in November.  I'd do it now but we have this week to get through and then we have a week off.  Instead, my goal is to just finish their lessons by the end of the week!!  
 This board keeps me sane.  It lists their Live Lesson Times, Be-Weekly call dates, and due dates for special assigments.  Granted, I just remembered at 9:35 pm on Sunday that Nate was supposed to record a book this weekend. Oops!  We will work on that first thing Monday morning!
Nate was working on some school work but did not want his picture taken! 

Thursday we spent at Thursday school and Friday, we had errands to run and Nana came over for a couple of days!  It was an extremely busy week with things like swim lessons and AWANA too.  

But . . .we had fun! :-) 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Weekly Menu - The one I haven't planned

It's only October and I'm already tired of cooking HA!  No, really, I just haven't had the time to really sit down and plan the next week.  I'm also finding it hard to have time to do a fully grocery shopping trip so have been going for 2-3 days at a time recently.

So, here's what the next few days look like:

Friday - My mom is coming  - Darryl's bringing something home for us all to enjoy

Saturday - We will eat at home . .. but might order in.  Boy do I wish we had a better selection of resturants!

Sunday - Darryl's working and I have book club so the boys and I will grab something for lunch and dinner - I think I have stuff for quasidillas . . .so we'll make those.

Monday - This is one of those "running" nights.  I have a hair appointment; the boys have swimming.  So, I think I'll just have stuff for tacos and everyone can eat when it fits in to eat.

Tuesday - Thursday  . .. well I haven't planned this yet.  :-)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Fall Fun - October 3-9, 2016

Do you know what I realized as I was writing this post?  I didn't take a single photo.  I'm still trying to get into a better flow with our day.  I feel like we are literally tied to the table from 9:00-2:00 and I don't like it.  So, here's a bullet list of what we did this past week:

* Monday = School and swimming.  The boys truely love swimming so I plan on trying to keep that going for now.  I finally have a new bathing suit ordered so we might fit in some free swim time after their lessons in the coming weeks. We had a treat too as my in-laws stopped by inbetween dinner and when we left for swimming.

* Tuesday = School. That's it.  Just school

* Wednesday = School and AWANA.  Darryl had practice so it was just the boys and I so we treated ourselves to dinner before I had to take them to AWANA.

* Thursday = Thursday School Co-Op.  This day is busy and tiring.  The boys love their classes (especially their Art Class) Darryl was also home today but was running to Dentist and Doctor Appointments.

* Friday - The boys have TKD and then my mom came over for the afternoon/evening.  We enjoyed dinner and just family time.

Our weekend was much quieter then the last few.  The boys and I went to the store to window shop for their birthday's and Christmas.  This is a great way for me to see what they are really interested in and I'm always surprised by what they pick verses what I would have picked for them. We also enjoyed dinner at our favorite Mexican resturant followed by ice cream :-)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Weekly Song - Even If

I shared this on my Facebook page on Saturday:

It's hard for me to fatham that it was 5 months ago tonight that my dad enter Heaven; almost 6 months ago since he was silenced. Reality is really in that 5 month marker because during those last 4 weeks prior, we still had him even though he wasn't who he always was before. We still had the warmth of his hand and, well, hope for a miracle. Reality hit when the hope we had left was the simple hope in Jesus that someday we will be re-united in heaven. It doesn't take away the pain; it really doesn't even make it less because the ache of missing his wisdom, his laugh, his voice, his encouragement . . .that ache is still deep. The loss of hopes, dreams - it is all difficult to grasp. I've said before that music speaks to my soul and this is one of the songs we chose for my dad's funeral because, quite honestly, we all begged God to bring healing and he chose not to . . so Even If the healing doesn't come, He is God and He is good.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Family Fun - AWANA Games

Throughout the year, the boys attend AWANA at our church and one of the things they work toward is playing in the AWANA Olympics.  This is something that I did as a kid so its kinda cool to watch my own boys partcipate in it now.  This is another bittersweet moment because my dad was there to watch the boys.  This is a photo op I missed - I should have snapped a photo of the boys with their grandparents who were there.

 My two super cute sparkies!  This was Nate's first year to partcipate.  They boys were excited to be together this year.

 Those faces though.  I can't believe how much they have charged from March until now, October.

 Our church brought such a big team that they had to be split up so the Josh and Nate ended up on seperate teams.  

 Nate had to sit out a game because there were too many kdis - I felt so bad for him but when I asked him about it later, he said he was just resting.

It really is fun to watch them play and compete.  :-)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Weekly Menu

We had a good week.  We ate out a little, I cooked a little . .life is good.  I know I need to get back into trying to get the kids, most specifically Nate, tasting new foods.  I am not a "eat it or go hungry" kind of parent; probalby because I'm a little bit picky myself but, I do find it annoying sometimes when the pickiness becomes well, refusual to try something.  Josh is willing to try a little more (shoot, the kid loves sweet potatos) but Nate, he could live on Chicken Nuggets and Mac and Cheese!

Anyway, all of that to say, this is what is planned for the week and who knows, maybe Nate will learn to like something new (For the record, he has learned to like grapes, apples, and "salad" - he loves croutons dipped in dressing. . .even blue cheese dressing :-) )

Friday - We get a special treat as my mom is coming over and she is providing dinner :-)  We haven't seen in her a few weeks and are going through withdrawel.

Saturday - I don't cook on Saturdays.  For real.  This Saturday I have plans to do a few fun things with the boys while Darryl is working, along with running a few errands, and then meeting him for dinner.

Sunday - Simple BBQ Ribs, Cheesy Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes and Biscuits; Then we will have Homemade Pizza for Dinner.

Monday - Cheesy Broccoli Soup and Ham Sammies.

Tuesday - Stir-Fry Beef Lo Mein and French Bread

Wednesday - Stuffed Shells with cheese, Salad, and Garlic Bread

Thursday -Slow Cooker Enchiladas, Mexican Rice and Chips and Cheese

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What We're Eating

Image result for snacks

What we haven't been eating is too many new recipes.  I'm just getting back into cooking after a pretty laid back summer.  The few new recipes I've tried fall into two categories:
1) I'll never make it again
2) I took a photo but due to my computer kinda half-way craashing and backing everything up on my external hard drive so I can use Josh's school computer . . well, the photos need to be sorted.  

I did try a new evening snack though! 

Image result for vanilla pudding with raspberries

Ok, this is a photo from Google and my version of this was much simplier! 

In this house, we tend to eat dinner early.  I've actually started trying to push dinner to 5:30 or 5:45 instead of our normal 5:00 just to try and eliminate the second dinner at 7:30 HA!  Because we eat earlier, I am ready for snack by 8:30 and it is easy to just start grabbing stuff.  I've been working on finding some new, healthier options that still meet the "sweet, crunchy, salty" craving that comes at night.  

My simple version of the above is: 
1 carton of vanilla pudding (you know - just a pudding cup)
A handful of raspberries (or blueberries, black berries etc)
Throw in a little bit of your favorite granola (or nuts of any kind)

It's easy, its tasty, and it is just the right amount for a snack. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Fall Fun - School, Home Depot, and Airplanes

Like my summer "series" about our weekly activities, I thought it would be fun to share some of what we do each week.

This past week (Sept 26-Oct 2) we really focused hard on school.  We've had a lot of interruptions during the first three weeks - both planned and unplanned - so we needed to catch up and get back on track.  Our basic schedule right now looks like this:
Monday - Wednesday - We hit lessons hard, doubling up on subjects like Math and Reading.

Thursday - Thursday School (Co-Cop) in the morning; Educational Technology in the afternoon (this is a fun lesson where they get to play on the computer)

Friday - In the morning we catch up on anything we didn't get done and do art.  Nate also has a Live Lesson.  The afternoon is Tae Kwon Do.

Even with the busy schedule, we still manage to find a little fun too.

On Monday nights the boys have swim lessons.  This is my view for about an hour every Monday night.  Once I replace my bathing suits that fell apart, we might even stay for open swim after this just so I can get into the pool and not just sit beside it!

 During one of Nate's science lessons this week, he and I had to go outside and observe a plant (Practicing the scientific method) As we were talking about what the plant looked, felt and smelled like, Nate caught sight of the biggest catipillar I've ever seen.  Because I'm a freakazoid about poisenous things, we looked it up to make sure it was safe (and it was) and our science lesson took a turn.  Both boys enjoyed watching this guy crawl and, yes, poop.
 Just love this candid shot.  And yes, Josh is still in PJ's.  It's a battle every. single. day.
 This photo doesn't do it justice - it was about three inches long.
To add to our science lessons of the day - Josh snapped this photo of a cloud he thought was just amazing.

 We ended our week with some fun too.  Being the first Saturday of the month, Home Depot hosts their kids workshops.  These workshops were something I reserved for my dad when it worked out for him to take them so it was a little bit emotional taking them myself.  Nate said, as we pulled into the parking lot, "Mom, I have some tears in my eyes trying to come out."  Then as we worked on building their fire trucks they both talked about how much Papa taught them about building.

After enjoying lunch at Olive Garden (Nate's favorite place) we headed to the Airport to the Observation Park to see the airplanes.  We hit the motherload too - I think we saw a good 10 planes land and take off.  These cuties just had a blast running around and watching planes.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Weekly Song - I have this Hope

A week or so ago, someone shared this song on Facebook and it included the story behind the song but, of course, I can't find that post now.  Ultimatly, the story doesn't matter because the song itself is so powerful.  It doesn't matter what type of pain or unknown you are walking through right now - We have hope.  Some days, it is what gets me through the day as I cry out to God and ask him, "Why" - "I have this hope; In the depths of my Soul."  So powerful.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Family Fun - St. Patricks Day and TKD Testing

So, I have to admit that as I'm going through photos from March, it gets a little harder because I know now that my dad's time was counting down.  It makes it more emotional.  I wish I had taken a few more photos of him when he was with the boys but I'm thankful for photos we do have taken in March when we gathered at my parents house to see my brother.  It's like another "first" seeing photos taken just weeks before my dad's stroke and realizing there is a "before" and an "after".

Somehow, St. Patricks Day has become my most fun holiday to celebrate other than the "big ones" (Christmas and Easter).  It's just plain fun.  I think part of it is the simple fact that the boys truly believe that a Leprechaun comes into the house and leaves candy all day (Rolos).  It gets harder each year to hide them without them seeing me but still - it's fun.  I also love buying them a special t-shirt - it's the first summer shirt of the season and it is just plain fun.

 Wow, they are pasty white HA!  Compared to right now where they are super tan . . .yikes!
 Josh and "Itty Bitty"  - he loves that cat.

 Our annual Green dinner.  Stuffed Cabbage in the crock pot, Green Jell-o, Green Kool-aid, Crash potatoes and Green pudding with coins in the bottom of the glass.

The boys were able to test for their next Tae Kwon Do belts on March 18th.  They had worked hard during two semesters of Friday School to learn what they needed.  A cool thing was at the end of the testing, they got to break a board with their foot.  It was fun to watch.

They both moved on to their yellow striped belt.  (And yes, they are already working hard on being able to test for their next belt in the spring)