Muffin Mondays

For the last few years, Mondays have meant muffins for breakfast.  During the school year, muffins serve as a grab-and-go breakfast if we are running late to our home school co-op.  (They also work as an awesome snack later in the day.)  During the summers, however, Muffin Mondays get to be enjoyed with a cup of coffee before working in the garden while it’s still cool and foggy.  Have I mentioned how much I love summer?

Todays muffins?  Lemon, strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry.  I make a basic muffin mix and put it in bags so it is that much quicker to make them in the morning.

Basic Muffin Recipe:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup oatmeal

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt.

1/2 cup organic sugar

(Easy, right?  1-1-1-1-1-1/2-1/2)

In the morning, I mix the wet ingredients.

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups nonfat Greek yogurt

1/3 cup coconut oil

squirt of honey

(If they’re still dry, add some milk!)

Next comes the fun part!  Decide what kind of muffins you want to make, and add-in the ingredients

Pumpkin chocolate chip (add pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and chocolate chips)

pumpkin pecan raisin  (add pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, raisins, and pecans)

orange cranberry (add orange juice, orange zest, and cranberries — dried or whole)

lemon blueberry (add lemon juice, lemon zest, blueberries)

banana almond (add 2 mashed bananas and sliced almonds)

coconut almond  (add 1 cup coconut, almond flavoring, and almonds)

maple raisin (add maple syrup, maple flavoring, and raisins)

peanut butter chocolate (add in peanut butter and chocolate chips)

I don’t know which are my favorite, but there are endless possibilities and I have made al of the above SEVERAL times!  Enjoy!

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Spirit West Coast 2018

We ate too much licorice, too many chips, and not enough cherries!  We hit too many people with our ball.  We laughed and worshipped and crafted.  It was a beautiful evening with great music.  I think Spirit West Coast may have to become a tradition.  My all-time-favorite band, Tenth Avenue North, gave an incredible performance.  We finished the night by getting in the car, only to discover a near-by fair just started a fireworks show.  We watched the show, listened to our new cd, and drove home with all the littles snoring away.

Family time — check!

Worship — check!

Fun Summer bucket list item — check!

Gardenias and Avocados

The front yard doesn’t get much lovin’ on this blog.  (Mostly because there really isn’t much to see out there, and in the summer months it’s far too hot.)  Lately, however, as I put my running shoes on in the early morning, the scent of fresh gardenias has overwhelmed me.  Everyone who comes by comments on our enormous gardenia bush.  As I have never touched it, I have no idea how that happened… but apparently it is larger than most.  And, our avocado tree — wow, is it loaded this year!  Fresh guacamole for Christmas!  Feeling grateful for fresh scents and fresh produce!

Boredom Buster 4

Silly putty?  Slime?  Whatever this stuff was, and as messy as it looks, it was surprisingly easy to clean up!  The official word was that this was silly putty.  And, we did eventually get it to feel like that!  But, initially it definitely resembled slime.  Here’s the thing.  The recipe calls for 1 – 3oz. box jello mix, 1 cup cornstarch, and water.  Notice it doesn’t say how much water.  (Gotta love Pinterest!)  It did say you can’t really mess it up — add more water or more cornstarch as needed.  I would concur.  This stuff smells good and is fun to play with — for 5 minutes.  Then the kids were done.  They are at an age where the making is more exciting than the playing.  But, it was worth it!  We played again today, so there’s that!

Hooray for… goo?

Boredom Buster 3

In the midst of our bathroom redo, (which hasn’t even started, but we’ve been ordering a few things), we have boxes!  Kids + boxes = FUN!  Every parent knows this.  We all laugh when our child’s first birthday or Christmas toy is left to collect dust while the box gets endless play time.  This particular box is HUGE.  Both boys fit in it.  Even as I type, I am hearing, “Look out below” coming from the other room and inside the box.  I will admit, it drives me crazy to have a big box along with tools and markers and tape laying around.  But, it really does provide quite the entertainment.  It’s been about a week, and I am thinking  it is time for the box to move upstairs or outdoors.

Hooray for huge boxes!

Boredom Buster 2

This one all started with play dough.  My girl had asked me if she could make her play dough extra red… and then, all on her own, it became a clown nose and she asked to borrow my Halloween face paints!  Of course, then she needed to make a sign that she was open, set up her station, and draw a page of all the options for her clients.  What I loved most about this boredom buster was that it all came straight from her head!  And, they all worked together and had fun.

Hooray for a little play dough and face paint!

Boredom Buster 1

By the time summer rolls around, I am so ready for no schedule, nothing to do, and bored kids.  Of course, that means they inevitably ask for too much screen time.  And, to be honest, I want to give it to them!  I don’t want to entertain them, and I don’t want to have to help them with anything.  (Great mom, I know!)

But, I am saying no to screens quite often, and I am trying to make just a little effort each day to help them be creative.  To help me in this effort, I have used Pinterest and craft books.  One day I was so tired of hearing, “What can I do?” that I literally threw this book at my son and said, “Bookmark 3 pages that have ideas you like, and I will help you pick one to do.”  Thankfully, he picked one page that was quite simple — gather up your boxes and make ramps, garages, etc. for your cars.  He spent a lot of time making it, and even more time playing it with his little brother.  We have since found several other activities that are helping us to limit our screen time, which I will blog about soon.  And, of course, having a pool is one of the biggest perks for us in the summer.

Side note:  I also came up with a chart, which has been really awesome for my older kids.  It is a “No Screen Payout” chart, where I write in the date at the end of the day if they choose not to have any screen time whatsoever.  Every date I write in is worth a dollar.  It is tougher for the little guys, though they have used it.  What I love most is that it stops them from asking me for screen time because they have made the choice themselves not to watch videos or play games.

Hooray for boredom busters!

Father’s Day 2018

Breakfast:  oatmeal raisin breakfast cookies, peanut butter breakfast cookies, English muffin breakfast sandwiches, and most delicious of all — handmade cards!

Allison gave Papa the massager she won from a drawing during a 5k race, and the rest of us gifted him a Jelly Belly dispenser for his new office.

After church, our dear friends came over for lunch and lounging.  It was such a beautiful day!  (Sadly, too cold to swim… but otherwise perfect!)  We also had our old babysitter stop in and stay… she is such a blessing to us!  By the time our friends left, it was dinner time but none of us were hungry so we rented “The Greatest Showman” and had a family movie night before bed.

Happy Father’s Day to my favorite person!!!  I love parenting with you!

Garden Update

Our baby chicks are not quite babies anymore!

The bunnies enjoyed the cilantro that had started to flower.

Today was the last day of VBS.  I wanted to take advantage of the last “free,” (and cooler), morning, so once I sent the big kids off, the little guy and I hit the garden!  We spent all morning out there… weeding, sweeping, pruning, etc.  To my joy, I discovered lots of things growing… a couple zucchini, a couple cucumber, several green tomatoes, (though two were eaten by rats!), more strawberries, aaaannndd…. enough lettuce for a huge salad for lunch!  (Actually, enough for a few big salads!)  Hooray!  The flowers are starting to blossom, and I attempted to separate a few clusters of wild flowers that I had planted too close together.   Of course, there were many plants with bug holes, bird pecks, and worm poop.  Organic gardening is still tough for me, and quite a learning process!  But, I am so grateful for sticking with it and all the things that I have learned.

Once I picked up the kids, I headed back out for some more cleaning while the kids hit the pool.  The pool chairs that had been folded since last summer were full of peach pits and rat poop.  I didn’t know the rats liked to lounge on our pool chairs while eating our peaches!  Needless to say, the chairs got a good wash!

I so wanted to join the kids in the pool, but alas it was time to make dinner.  I am so grateful for days like today to just enjoy working outdoors… Looking forward to writing more garden updates this summer!

VBS Week!

This week I had 2 VBS helpers, 2 VBS students, and 1 little buddy at home with me.  As much as I wanted to get cleaning done, the sad tears as we drove away from all his sibling friends made me change my mind about cleaning and instead make a big mess — a play dough mess!  He helped me pour the salt and the flour, cheered me on as I mixed and mixed, and then we got to playing.  I am still finding “pellets” he made and shot from his volcano launcher all over the floor.  But, a good time was had by all!  (It helped that I started making some “food” for him!)  I am grateful for big kids who can go enjoy VBS… and grateful for little ones who love playing with mom!

Here’s the awesome play dough recipe that is sure to give your arm a workout: (You’re welcome!)

3 cups flour

3 cups water

3/4 cup salt

2 TBSP cream of tartar

food coloring of choice

Mix on stove over medium heat until the soupy stuff magically turns into play dough!.