Halloween School 2012

Halloween week is one of my favorite weeks of the year!  Here are a few of our Halloween fun school projects, thanks mostly to Pinterest!

“Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate”

Halloween school snack: caramel apple bites with fancy toothpicks!

Fact/ opinion spiders

Pumpkin fruit leather; just 4 ingredients!

“Roll a pumpkin”  This game was a huge hit, and may have to become a tradition… you can find it here.

Sourdough mummy pizzas for lunch

Fun with paint chips!

Pumpkin Patch 2012

I know you can’t “do it all” every year.  But, there are certain things that I just have to make time for; even if we have to squeeze them into a busy weekend!  The pumpkin patch is one of those things!

It’s been our tradition to do the Live Oak Canyon Pumpkin Patch out in Yucaipa.  So, that is what we did!  Our first stop was the “hayless” hay ride. (Should be called a tractor pull! 🙂 )

Next, the girls did their favorite petting zoo.  I’m amazed that they never grow tired of these things.  (Neither does my husband!)  We really should live on a farm!

The main reason we come to this pumpkin patch is the pony rides.  Sierra still remembers Cookie Monster and Oats from last year.  This girl LOVES her ponies!  If only we could get a horse… **sigh**

Our final tromp through the pumpkin patch brought us to the corn field.  The girls were so excited to do the corn maze!  Let me tell you, if I were the one who took them through by myself, we would still be in there!  Luckily, their father has a much better sense of direction and an actual plan that got us through!

Corn mazes hold a special place in my heart.  I may have had my first kiss with my husband the night we went to a corn maze.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t get goose bumps walking into the maze!

We had to find 4 posts, each with a number, to give us a code to get us through the first door.  Then we had to find another 4 posts to give us yet another code to get us through the final door and out of the maze.  I was 0 for 8 on finding posts and 3 for 3 on finding a dead end.  Hmmm….

We made it out in 25 minutes; just in time to head out and back to church for Malachi’s dedication.  Stay tuned for the next post…

Yikes!

 

So, why did I say yikes?  Here’s the deal… I had an appointment to go to first thing Friday morning.  I woke-up absolutely elated that this was the start of my “break;” (husband home 4 days, and parents visiting for a week!)  I grabbed my cup of coffee and paper work and left my substitute teacher with his plans for school that morning; I had the day off!  (Funny how a doctor appointment can feel like a mini-vacation, but sometimes you just need a break!  :))

I drove to my appointment, and was super excited to discover that it was located right next to one of my favorite cupcake places.  I hadn’t been there in a couple of years because it’s not that close or convenient, but I knew I had to stop after my appointment for a treat!

I walked-in, and smiled from ear-to-ear.  I was like a kid in a candy shop, only I was a mom in a cupcake shop!  They had so many fun Halloween cupcakes, and I am a huge fan of all things fall.  I couldn’t decide what to get, so the nice gentleman behind the counter suggested I get a variety of minis to take home.  Perfect.  I began pointing and asking and changing my mind until finally, I had the perfect selection.  Alas, he rings me up.  Here’s where the “yikes,” comes in.  Silly me had not been calculating the price, nor realizing that these special “Halloween” varieties were $0.50 more a piece.  He gave me my total.  My jaw dropped.  I couldn’t help it — I just blurted out, “For tiny cupcakes?”  ($19, folks!)  These are literally about 3 bites big.  “Oh, but these are SO good,” he responded.  What could I do?  I handed him my credit card.

I came home and showed my girls.  They were busy playing Farkle Frenzy with their substitute teacher.  But, when they were finished they were quite excited about these little bites of gold!  They were fun; and yummy; and we enjoyed them; but, I will never, ever again pay almost $20 for a few bites of cupcakes!

Thankful Thursday

 

So, a precedent has been set.  Originally, I did not intend to make a special treat to go with every tea time on Thursdays, but now I wonder – why not?  It gives me an excuse to bake, try new recipes, and enjoy yummy food!  (Ok, so perhaps my figure may oppose all this yumminess, but I’m just going to go with it!  :))  Today during tea time, the girls asked if “Miss Savannah” could join them.  Sometimes I throw on a little southern accent and teach as Miss Savannah, and the girls LOVE it.  Turns out Sierra loves it, too.  At first, she was a little confused.  But, it didn’t take her long to catch-on, and then she kept asking for Miss Savannah long after the tea party was over!

On today’s menu: apple cider for Sierra, Chamomile for Allison, Chai for Natalie, and pumpkin spice coffee for me.  The cookies were a pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, and they were awesome!  The recipe has you brown butter — never done that before, but it adds such a wonderful flavor!  It came from Bakers Royale.  These were a huge hit with me.  (As are most pumpkin items)  Here is the recipe:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Makes 48 11/2 inch cookies | Preparation: Heat oven to 350 degrees and line bake sheet with parchment paper.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼  cup old fashion oats (I used all old fashion oats)
  • ½ cup quick oats
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, browned
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

Add-ins:

  • ¾ cup mini chocolate chips (I used regular, and skipped the other 2 because I didn’t have them)
  • ¾ cup almonds, toasted
  • ½ toffee bits

Instructions:

  1. Add old fashion oats, quick oats and flour into a bowl and mix to combine; set aside.
  2. Place butter in a skillet over medium heat and cook until butter starts to turn brown and is nutty in aroma. (To minimize the foaming, whisk continuously). Set aside.
  3. Add sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg and egg into a bowl and mix to combine. Add in cooled browned butter and mix to combine. Add in baking soda and mix to combine. Then fold in flour and oat mixture until combined.
  4. Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. (I did about 13 – 14 minutes)

Thoughts on the Week and Pictures of my Little Monster

It’s been a long six days.  My husband has been gone 5 of the 6, which always makes it a little harder.  The kids are all tired and have slight colds.  I am still trying to catch-up on laundry since our trip!

But, you know what?  It’s ok.  I’m ok with it.  In fact, I have really had a lot of joy and peace.  In the grand scheme of things, we have had an incredibly blessed week.  I look into these precious faces and I know I am blessed beyond words.

The fall weather has been perfect, and we’ve spent every afternoon outside.  We’ve spent much of each morning outside, too.  The kids think it’s for them.  I watch them ride bikes, play with magnolia seeds and daisy petals, get covered in chalk, and push them on swings.  But, it’s for me, too… I need that fresh air to reflect and be reminded of how blessed I am.  With the kids extra tired, my temper has been short.  I even told my number 2 I needed a time out for myself!

I hate typing that.  I hate admitting I have a short-temper at times.  Whenever I’m told by a loving friend that I am the most patient person ever, I tell them they need to talk to my kids more!

But, there’s grace.  And there are times I do have inexplicable patience.  It’s when I feel God’s Spirit helping me.  I am learning.  I am learning to listen to Him… to stop and move outside for some fresh air and a change of scenery.  Sometimes I feel Him nudging me to laugh instead of discipline.  Sometimes I have to force myself to say something encouraging when I am totally frustrated with one of my children doing something they know they’re not suppose to.  And, sometimes I just have to turn-up the worship music and ask my kids to dance to try to change my own mood.  It’s a battle at times.  I am so thankful when I make the right choice, and so frustrated at myself when I don’t.  Again.. I am so grateful for grace!

The kids are all in bed now.  In fact, I’ve had quiet time to myself the last 3 nights.  What a blessing!  We’ve moved all the girls into one room, and it seems to be working out well.  Tomorrow my husband will be home.  The next day my parents are coming for a visit.  I am so, so excited!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Bagels

It’s always a bit tricky getting back into the swing of things after a vacation.  (Not-to-mention, all my little people caught a slight cold.)  For me, it helps to be a little spontaneous and to throw in some fun things.  As I was browsing Pinterest Sunday evening, I came across a bagel recipe that looked pretty simple.  Our lunches have become somewhat boring around here lately, so we decided to make the bagels for our lunch, yesterday.  Oh, fresh bagels… I could have written a poem about you!  (Come to think of it, I should make my girls write a poem about you!)

If you haven’t had a sandwich with turkey, cream cheese, cucumbers, and spinach on a fresh bagel, I highly recommend it!  (My girls prefer just cucumbers and cream cheese!)  You can find the simple recipe HERE. Go make them… you won’t be sorry!

San Diego Getaway

I just love those somee-cards that are on Pinterest and facebook with sayings that are all-too-true.  For instance, one of my favorites reads, “You know you’re a mom when going on vacation feels like work, and going to Target feels like a vacation.” (Or something like that!)  Ha!!  Too true.  Anyway, it hasn’t stopped us from planning a vacation, and I am happy to report that we just got back from probably our best family vacation to date…

Why the best, you ask?  Lots of factors… most importantly, sleep.  Both the girls and Malachi went to sleep without issue and slept through the night.  That is HUGE for us, folks!  That hardly even seems to happen at home!  And, the hotel was quiet — I don’t think I heard another person the entire time.  Again — miracle.  So, why am I so tired?  Oh yeah — all the fun we had!  🙂

We spent the first day at the beach.  This was our first trip to the beach with actual swimmers — and swim, they did!  Well, Allison did… she literally swam out in the waves.  I must say I was a little freaked out seeing my baby out there, but it was also fun.  Watching them grow-up, as well as learning to let go, pray and trust God; yikes!

We were happy to leave the 100 degree day back home behind.  The little ones were content to dig for quite some time.  They got filthy.  We all got filthy.   It was lovely.

The best part about getting filthy is coming back to the hotel to get clean.  This was our first test for Malachi; once he got washed up and smelling like a sweet little baby, we put him in his unfamiliar crib and walked out of that room.  Silence.  Granted, he was exhausted, but had that been one of my girls at that age — we would have had an hour of screaming first.  It was awesome.

Meanwhile, the girls pulled out their math and got to work.  Funny how it was fun for them in the hotel.  I guess a change of scenery is good for all of us now and then!

Being in San Diego, we had to do Mexican at least once.  We went to Casa Guadalajara for an incredible dinner.  The kids even got to watch tortillas being made.  I love Mexican, but we don’t do it very often because my husband gets a lot of it at work.

The next day began at the Birch Aquarium.  We chose San Diego because of their “Kids Free in October” promotion.  It’s a great deal, really — lots of places, including the aquarium offer free kids admission with a paying adult.

We expected that their might be some crowds due to the promotion.  In fact, most places were still relatively empty.  Of course, we went during the week, but it was still nice to avoid the crowds!

They had a see saw!  I had not been on one since I was a kid, so I made Daniel get on with me.  After waiting for what seemed like forever with a bunch of 5th grade girls on a field trip, I finally had to assert myself and let them know I was waiting, as well.  Allison took the camera and snapped away.  It was too fun!  Alas, I thought I’d better let the 5th graders hop back on.

For lunch, we went to an obscure little restaurant Daniel found a Groupon for.  I just love these little places that are off the beaten path and offer unique food choices.  Lunch was delicious and finished off with a cappucino and coffee cake.

Back at the hotel, our little rock star took another stellar nap while Daniel and Sierra watched a movie and I took the big girls swimming.  That night we found yet another yummy restaurant — this time we went Greek!

The girls brought their math books and did one page after another.  Come to think of it, I haven’t even checked all their work, yet; must get to that!

After dinner, we went to a favorite spot of ours, “Extraordinary Desserts.”  Daniel and I had been here a few times, but this was the first time we had taken the kids, (I think.)  No words.  Just look for yourselves:

Another great night sleep, despite the coffee right before bed; (You can’t have a dessert like that without coffee now, can you?)  We spent our final day at the Safari Park; another kids’ free promotion.

Sierra is our animal girl.  She has never been to the zoo, and we’d been wanting to get her here for quite some time.

The kids were quite tired by this day, but also very excited.  The excitement kept them going until the afternoon — then we took the safari tram for a little break.  (All together we walked almost 7 miles that day!)

My favorite part was the bird show.  I don’t even like birds, but somehow they made me quite interested in them.  It was a fascinating, entertaining, and even humorous show.

The girls fed the lorikeets.  I took pictures as fast as I could before running out of their, afraid I would get pooped on.

Poor Sierra got bit by a lorikeet.  Perhaps it will stop her from biting others.  Probably not.Their petting zoo was one of the cleanest I have ever seen.  The only other one like this was at Disneyland!  (Yes, Disneyland has a petting zoo!)  And, they had brushes for you to brush the goats; brilliant, I tell you!

One of the things we were excited to see was the cheetah run.  70mph!!!  And, he can go from 0 to 40mph in 3 steps; incredible!  As we were waiting a woman came up and asked Allison if she would like to run on the cheetah path first.  Out of 100’s of people, she was chosen!  Then we could have watched the cheetah run from a special reserved spot that normally costs $10 per person and have seen the entire run from start to finish.  Unfortunately, my girl’s shyness kicked-in, and she said no.  Even with some coaxing, she refused.  Oh, well.

We finished the day with the carousel ride.  Sierra had been asking about it all day.  It, of course, was not free, but had a lot of very fun and unique animals.  Just look at how tired these poor faces look!

I’ve decided that mini-vacations like this are the best.  We were able to do the entire vacation on just one tank of gas!  The tank is now empty, but our hearts are full!

All Boy

Oh, my boy… he is crawling away faster than I can capture him on camera now!  By all means, he was a very late crawler.  Truly, he didn’t really start crawling until last week — over 10 months old!  But, once he started it was like he took off!

He does the typical baby crawl shuffling his legs back and forth.  (Allison was our only “scooter” who used her right leg to propel her forward.)  I absolutely love the baby crawl.  I am eating it up!  Luckily we have lots of hand-me-downs because he prefers to crawl outside.  He prefers to be outside.  Oh, the sad-faced scream when I walk by a door without opening it to go outside!

Once he’s outside, he’s pretty good about finding dirt and rocks.  Don’t try to give him any toys; a boy just needs his dirt and rocks.

Oh, my heart just melts at the sight of my boy.  I always imagined myself a boy mom.  Then I had girls.  Then I couldn’t figure out why I ever wanted to be a boy mom… and I saw myself with a house full of little girls.  Then along came our little man.  That’s when I realized I still had a gap in my heart for a little boy!  Now my heart is full!

Breakfast Bars

 

Well, I wasn’t planning on blogging about these little bars.  I made them last week for breakfast to change things up a bit.  And, I fell in love… they are super duper easy and yummy!  I ate one… then two… then ran for my camera deciding I needed to share this recipe with the whole world!  (Ok, so maybe not the whole world, but consider yourself lucky for reading this!)  Here is the recipe:

Peanut butter banana oatmeal squares:

1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large mashed banana
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Mix together the quick cooking oats, light brown sugar, baking powder, kosher salt and ground cinnamon.

Add in the vanilla extract, milk and egg. Mix the ingredients together.

Then add in the mashed banana and peanut butter. Combine all of the ingredients.

Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 8 by 8 inch metal baking pan. Bake at 350 F degrees for 20 minutes.

Cut into squares and enjoy!

**note the only change I made was to use old fashioned oats.  That’s all I ever have or use.  You can find the original recipe here.  They’re a great recipe to use when you are running low on milk or eggs or both, which I am today so guess what we’re having?  🙂