Pinch Pots & Thankful Hearts

I pinned the idea long ago, but have not had a chance to try it… until now!

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 We were so blessed with such wonderful tutors at our Classical Conversations group this year, so I wanted the girls to make them a special thank-you.  We started with basic salt dough and made a few basic shapes.  Baking them took quite a while; about 2 hours at 300 degrees.  Once they cooled, I had the kids pick three paint colors, and let them paint as they pleased.  Finally, I planted the succulents the kids had picked out from the Farmer’s Market.  We added a rice crispy treat and a card, and they were set.  It was a fun and fairly simple process; just a bit time-consuming.  I want to make and paint some for myself, now!  I pray my kids will always have a heart of gratitude for the wonderful people who have poured into them this year.

Top 10 Random Pictures of Life this week

I figured it was about time for another random post.  Life is feeling a bit overwhelming at the moment, so I need to sit back and reflect on God’s blessings.  Want to join me?

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1.  Just one week away from Easter and we are just now pulling out our Easter decor.  Of course, the big girls immediately dove into a game of “chickers” while Sierra looked for her special stuffed animal to sleep with.  Malachi learned about Jesus riding the donkey on Palm Sunday today.  Other than that, we are waaaaay behind!

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2.  While visiting Daniel’s parents, we were sent home with more kumquats than I know what to do with!  Daniel made some tea today, which the kids really liked. Me?  Not so much!

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3.  Due to my husband’s busy work schedule at the moment, I haven’t found much of a chance to run, lately.  Today was my first day out in 10 days, and my buddy decided to join me.  While he snoozed away, I struggled in the spring heat but it felt so good to be out again!

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4.  We have 2 out of 3 planter boxes built — hooray!  Next up we need to borrow a truck and fill them with dirt.  Can’t wait for the fun stuff — planning out the garden, planting, and harvesting!

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5.  I found this little table on Craigslist a few weeks back, and still get excited every time I pass it.  It’s such a fun find!

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6.  I will never, ever, ever grow tired of tea parties and art with my kids.  Never.

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7.  Now that the warmer temperatures are here, I am hoping my monster jar will encourage me to drink more water and less coffee.  So far, cooler mornings and waking up early are still tempting me with that second and third cup!

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8.  Our friends recently came over for lunch, and somehow we got on the discussion of grilling steak.  Apparently, we had been doing it wrong, so they sent us a link to their secret.  Daniel tried it, and oh-my-word!  It really is fabulous.

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9.  We are nearing the end of CC, and getting tutor thank-you’s made.  It has been such a fabulous year, and we are SO grateful for our awesome new community.

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10.  As final prep for our last day of CC, Allison is busy creating her Pocohontas costume for her final presentation.  Fun times.

I think 10 is about it for now.  My little man is sitting on my lap, and it is time to get him to bed.  I hope to have a garden update, soon!

They Couldn’t Resist…

Our first spring day to dip into the 90’s, and the pool called out to my kids.  Sierra was the first to ask, and when I said, “Yes,” she stammered, “Uh… did you say ‘Yes?’”  Why not?  I certainly was not so brave.  The pool is still freezing.  (And dirty.)  But, they were thrilled…

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I love how they always lay their towels out and read magazines in the sun while drying off.  Sierra even brought out some school books to practice her handwriting!

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For dinner, I wanted to try a new thin crust pizza recipe I found.  I thought it turned out great, and you don’t have the wait for the dough to rise.  (I happen to be a thin crust type gal.)  My kids still prefer our “normal” crust, though they had no trouble polishing off the pizza.  Here is the recipe, (taken from here):

Thin Crust Pizza Dough (Yeast-Free), makes two 10″ pizzas.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix your flour, baking powder, and salt together in a mixing bowl. Mix your water and olive oil together in a separate small bowl and add into the dry mixture as you stir. When it’s almost combined, use your hands to gently knead the dough together. Add small amounts of extra water if needed. You want your dough to be dry enough that it doesn’t stick to your hands, but wet enough to stay together when you squeeze it.

Once the dough is the right consistency, divide it into two balls, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.

You can roll out your dough between two sheets of wax paper, but I actually like using a lightly floured counter instead (I think I can get it a little thinner that way). You want to get the dough as thin as possible, but shoot for around 1/8″ thick.

Turn your oven to 425˚F and lightly grease a baking sheet or pizza pan. Place the dough on the sheet and prebake your crust for about 10 minutes or until the crust just begins to brown slightly.

Add your sauce, cheese, and pizza toppings, and bake your pizza for another 10 minutes or until the cheese and crust are golden brown. Slice and serve immediately.

Your crust should be thin and crispy, so adjust your prebaking times as needed to get that perfect crunchy bite. I’m so glad to finally have an easy and quick thin crust option available for when that pizza craving hits.

A Day in OC

Signing all four kids up for ice skating lessons at the same time had seemed like a good idea at the time.  Then came the reality of a long drive right after lunch, waking-up sleepy kids to put on jackets and gloves and hats, then trying to squeeze eight feet into rental skates and get them all tied-up.  And then they would “skate… ” What was I thinking?  Honestly, after the first lesson I thought I was crazy.  Now that they are over, however, I am SO thankful we persevered.  All four kids can (somewhat) skate on their own!

Ironically, right after the kids’ lessons ended, my husband signed-up for a free 4 week ice hockey course in Orange County for firefighters and police.  Tuesday happened to be his last practice, so we drove down with him to watch him play, then we stayed for a little ice skating of our own!

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As soon as we walked in, he saw it… a mini zamboni ride!  Malachi was in heaven.

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I was so impressed with my husband’s ice hockey skills.. he did awesome!  The kids went back and forth between the ice hockey practice rink and the figure skating rink while we waited.

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Once it was our turn, Sierra wore her Minnie Mouse crocheted hat, and Malachi wore his Batman crocheted het — both gifts from our sweet housekeeper.

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Afterward, we went to a place I had been wanting to try for quite some time; Snow Monster!  Oh, yummy!  It did not disappoint.  (In fact, I am craving a jasmine milk tea as I write this!)  My husband always asks me, “So now do you want to live in Orange County?”  And my response is always, “My waistline couldn’t handle it!”

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Ice cream macaroon sandwiches.  Shaved snow.  Milk tea, strawberry lemonade, or Thai tea in a jar.  Yes, it is definitely a good thing that we don’t live too close!

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And, our final atop in OC was to Daniel’s parents’ house.  I’m so happy to have these pictures of the kids with their “Akong.”

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Timeline and the Cat

Our Classical Conversations group is quickly coming to a close.  The kids are totally bummed, and I am rejoicing.  (Shouldn’t it be the other way around?)  Truly, I love the group and even enjoy going and doing the weekly memory work with the kids.  It’s just that I’m ready for a break!

Anyway, the kids were practicing their timeline by writing (and illustrating) it on a long roll of paper…

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… when along came the cat!  Try as they might, the cat would NOT leave them alone.  We even tried putting him outside twice, but his sad meow at the door was too much for us and we let him right back in!

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Aw, the joys of homeschooling!  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The LA Zoo

A few weeks ago, a sweet friend of mine invited us to go to the zoo with her.  Sure.  The zoo is always fun, no matter how many times the kids have been!  And then it occurred to me…  I had never taken Malachi or Sierra to the zoo before!  The last time we were there was here.  (January 8, 2009:  My how our family has grown!)

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Funny girl… I asked her to turn around and smile, but instead she flew up and ran off… ha!

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These two are in the same Classical Conversations class.

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Alligators!  Reminds me I still have to finish blogging about our cruise.  :)

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The hippos were a lot of fun to see.  At one point, the two big ones “brawled” a bit, so we got to hear a hippo and see its big mouth open.  The little baby was not quite 5 months old.

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And, in case you were wondering what the back of hippos look like…

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Happy first day of spring!

Burritos

It started about October.  I had dropped the girls off at AWANA, and was passing by a Chipotle when my then 2-year-old son looked out the window and said, “tortillas.”  I was so impressed that he recognized the place we had eaten just once several months earlier that I exclaimed, “That’s right, buddy!  Do you want to eat there?”  He said yes, and we now have a standing mother-son Chipotle date every Sunday while the girls are at AWANA.  In fact, if ever we don’t go to get burritos and a blackberry Izze, he is quite disappointed.  (Part of me thinks the reason he doesn’t want to potty train is because he doesn’t want to go to AWANA and give up our dates, but that’s another story!)

Meal planning is very much a phase I go through and then get lazy about until I can’t handle it anymore.  This week was the pulling-out-my-hair-what-are-we-going-to-eat kind of week, so I now have a nice meal plan for the next week or so.  I decided to start with “homemade Chipotle-style burritos.”  I just took all the ingredients we normally put in our burritos; black beans, rice, mild salsa, roasted bell peppers, sour cream and lettuce, and made them at home.  (Malachi usually likes chicken, but I had some flank steak and used this recipe to grill it.)

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Natalie wanted to show you her “neat” burrito.  Cutie pie.

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These were a huge hit, and a definite summer go-to meal!  I can hardly wait to plant our garden and have fresh tomatoes…  mmm….