Happy Birthday, Adam!!!

Happy 37th Birthday, baby! I love you so much. Can’t wait to celebrate with you tonight!

And to all the friends that celebrated with us…


THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

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Fall Break ~ Spookables and Other Such Halloweeny Things!

Maybe it is because it is my husband’s favorite holiday. Maybe it is because fall birthday anticipation is ramping up. Maybe it is the irresistible draw of beautiful autumn leaves. But fall and Halloween is almost as big as Christmas around here…almost! The kids have been caterpillar hunting, jumping in leaves, making scarecrows, dressing spoooooooky just for the fun of it, watching scary movies, reading Halloweeny books, and eating favorite fun fall foods. Here is a smorgasboard of pics to feast on.

What happens when you let a little girl spend her allowance on anything she wants? She buys vampire blood. Add to that a little of mommy’s eyeliner pencil and you’ve got fresh new Frankensteins. This book has been Lily’s favorite read over fall break. Who knew my little girl would like such a classic, yet dark story? Hmmm…she must take after her dad!

We’ve been having some fun with food around here. PB & J is standard fare. How to make it interesting? Pumpkin cookie cutters and a little carving work. The kids loved it! Feel free to steal this one!

Schoolish things? Always! But on their own time and in their own way.

Picture Books being read:

Chapter Books being read:

Movies being watched:


The Homeschool Mother's Journal

101 Ways to Use PUMPKIN in Kid Friendly Dishes

Okay…maybe not 101, but a lot! 🙂

Canned pumpkin finally showed up at our store a couple of weeks ago and at 99 cents a can I stocked up! I’ve been doing a lot of on-the-fly cooking lately and have enjoyed experimenting with this nutritious staple. It’s a super easy way to get the kids to eat a nutrient dense super food!

Here have been our favorite ways to enjoy it.

Pumpkin Spice Latte’s.

Remember that recipe I shared? Well, I modified it a bit for our taste and my kids gave it a yummy thumbs up! (Yes, I’m a bad mommy. I do give my kids coffee every once in a while and they love it.) Stir together 4 cups coffee, 3 cups milk, 4 Tbsp pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, 1/4 cup sugar till heated through. Ultra yummy if you then top it with fresh whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon!

Pumpkin Muffins/Bread

Need I say more? A given that we will be doing this a lot! The key to super light and yummy muffins…use buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream for most or all of the liquids in your favorite recipe.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Make bread pudding with your favorite bread pudding recipe. Add in 1/2 can pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice to the liquids. Pour over stale bread and cook for 45 minutes at 350. Make some yummy caramel sauce to pour over the top (whisk a little cream, brown sugar, butter and vanilla together over low heat) and you have an instant fall dessert or, as in our case, a yummy dinner side dish!

Pumpkin Yogurt

This one I did on a whim. I was getting the kids yogurt for breakfast and realized I was out of jam. I looked down at the pumpkin I had already opened to use for my lattes. Hmmm….I wondered. And guess what? Mixing pumpkin, a bit of sweetener (honey, sugar, maple syrup…your pick) and cinnamon into plain yogurt completely hit the spot. My kids loved it. I’m thinking of trying this same thing with apple butter. Seasonal yogurt. Who knew?

Pumpkin Smoothies

If pumpkin yogurt works, why not throw it in a smoothie? I have this yummy oatmeal apple smoothie I do so I just threw in some pumpkin with it and, voila, instant yumminess. What goes into my smoothies? Well, it is never the same thing twice. Just depends on what I have on hand. Usually I throw in plain yogurt, raw honey, fruit (apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries, bananas, blueberries, pineapple…whatever I have on hand), and sometimes greens (spinach or swiss chard).

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

This is super yummy and is a way to get veggies into a simple, no-brainer for lunch. And the best part, for my kids at least, you can’t even taste the pumpkin! Easy recipe. Make mac n chz how you normally do (for me that usually includes 1 16 oz box noodles, whole milk, real butter, and colby or cheddar cheese…a few handfuls will do), stir in 1/2 can pumpkin and some parmesan cheese, add a bit of garlic powder, salt and pepper and you have creamy, instant success!

Happy Smiling Kids full of fortified goodness…

Sew Simple Owl Softies and Mommy Time

Lily's owl softie.

This week I made the kids a promise. A week of undevoted mommy time. Each kid picked a number and that was their special day with mom. After breakfast and chores they would have my undivided time until lunch to play with them how they chose. They spent the past couple of weeks pouring over ideas of what to choose and constantly reminding me of when their day was. No backing out of this promise! The Lord has been working this onto my heart for some time now. I had to cancel social dates, put my own work aside, and just be with the kids.

Day 1 ~ Luc (5) took me caterpillar hunting (in the rain) and we played with grandma’s special toys that are normally put up in the closet. We read lots of Mercer Mayer stories and drank hot cocoa with marshmellows.

Day 2 ~ Lilah (4) had a tea party with me. She dressed up in her fanciest princess outfit, picked out my outfit for me, picked out ribbons for our hair and makeup for our face. We looked fabulous in blue sparkly eye shadow! She picked out a pretty lace floral tablecloth and the good china tea cups and tea pot and some princess books, soothing music, and nail polish. We had chai tea with pumpkin bread. We painted nails and read princess stories while they were drying.

Day 3 ~ Lily (8) decided to have craft time with me. She poured over my pinterest boards and found just the craft she wanted to do…this adorable owl softie. She used her imagination and picked out materials she found in the house. She used her budding sewing skills to cut out the pattern, stuff the owl body, and sew the wings. Mommy sewed the body and the other parts to the body. I must say, it turned out quite adorable and she so loves it!

Day 4 ~ Gabe (almost 10) will be choosing to have me mend a hole in one of his favorite stuffed animals (something I’ve been promising but haven’t had the time to get to) and play Monopoly with me. He is very excited for his day tomorrow!

Day 5 ~ Ivy (2) will have the last day with me and said she wants to play Dora and read books. She will be pretty easy. For her, just sitting next to mommy is enough!

This has been a huge success for the week. I had to pray daily that the Lord would help me lay aside my other work and allow me to emotionally deal with my house being a wreck for a week for the sake of my children. The children have enjoyed it so much, as have I, that I think we will continue the tradition and use the first week of every school break as this special mommy time before I start any other projects, cleaning, or planning for the next school quarter.

Today we read Owl Babies to go along with Lily’s new owl friend. I forgot how much I love this book. I fell in love with it on a trip to Vail years ago and immediately bought it and set it aside for the this same daughter who was then in my stomach growing. I read this book the same way every time. It is not Owl Mother but rather Owl Momma. And we do not say baby owls we say owl babies. And when we are wishing we do not simply make a single wish but rather we wish and wish and wish and wish. There is comfort in the way mom reads a story. I hope they remember that as they are reading it to their little ones someday and realizing that it isn’t quite how mom read it.

 

Linking with ~

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Fall Break ~ Caterpillars and Remembering 9/11

We’ve been on fall break around here. For me that entails LOTS of extra cleaning and organizing around the house. (Have you noticed it’s been kind of quiet around here?) For the kids it has entailed caterpillars. You may remember our post about our monarch caterpillars? Well, after several died due to Tachinid fly parasites, only one survived and turned into that beautiful Monarch butterfly.

It was a poignant moment. The morning of 9/11 we had read several stories dealing with the tragedy. The kids decided to make their own drawings based on the illustrations of Andrea Patel in On That Day While processing tragedy through art, our caterpillar died and broke free as a creature new, transformed, and utterly beautiful and full of hope. It was a glorious analogy for the hope that came out of that day for the still living. I’d show you a picture (I took beautiful ones of the butterfly with the kids while they were drawing) but, somehow, those pictures got accidentally deleted before I had a chance to post.

Since then, fall has dried the meadow grasses and we have had a caterpillar bonanza as woolly bears are flocking to the warmth of the concrete street. Everyday my kids are caterpillar hunting and coming home with hundreds of soft little fuzzies. And if you think I am exaggerating, proof is in the pictures. EVER DAY they hunt, EVERY DAY buckets and cups and bowls (even shoes) fill our porch with soft little pets to play with. I never knew there could be so many in one area! I think it is beginning to drive my husband crazy. Every night he dumps them out to escape to the wild or be eaten by birds and every night he finds more bucketfuls to empty. I love it. My kids are outside enjoying fresh air, playing, using imagination, and NOT playing video games. (I literally had to ban them the first week of fall break to even get them out the door.)

For more 9/11 inspiration (never too early to plan for next year…or pin it to visually remember), visit Elizabeth Foss at In The Heart of the Home.

~ 9/11 Stories for Kids ~

On That Day: A Book of Hope For Children

Fireboat

The Day America Cried

America Is Under Attack: The Day the Towers Fell

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

New York’s Bravest

I Was Born on 9/11

September 11 2001: A Simple Account for Children

The Little Chapel That Stood

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Large Family Chores: Mopping

I’ve been reading a wonderful resource lately…

Kim Brennenam’s Large Family Logistics (visit her blog here).

The book is good for me. Most is common sense and stuff I’ve heard or already knew but the key to this book is how she takes all that knowledge and brings it together into a workable solution for your family. Kim has 9 kids, homeschools, and lives on a working farm. Her similar interests means she is a woman I can glean from…especially being a woman of God who puts that above all else and wonderfully shows how to put it above all else in your own life in spite of a large family that produces daily chaos and mess. This has been sobering and refreshing for me all at the same time.

Today we are practicing one of her tips: Listening to audio books while mopping.

With six little kids 9 and under, our floors are filthy no matter how many times a day we sweep. I even try to spot mop after every meal to keep things manageable. Six little feet drag dirt, sand and grass onto the floor daily. Six little mouths miss food as it falls into puddles of stuck-on gunk on our floor.

So today we put on a story, got out six rags, made our own floor cleaner, put the baby in the play pen and set to work. The kitchen smells lemony and wonderful. While they have not perfected the art of mopping, it is MUCH cleaner than it was before and there was no complaining or grumbling…just giggling while they worked on their chore. I think I will use this tactic for other once-a-week chores!

What are we listening to today?

Ivy and Bean

 

A good story for Halloween and one of my children’s favorites!

How are we cleaning our floor?

  • scoop of baking soda
  • splash of vinegar
  • squirt of dish soap
  • sprinkle of essential oils: lemon and rosemary
Mix in a bowl with warm/hot water and deep clean, disinfect your floor.
Happy Mopping!