Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Fun Snack

You've probably seen this one floating around Pinterest.  That's where I saw it.  I had picked up a big 'ole box of Ritz crackers at Costco.  I usually buy the healthier crackers or just Saltines, but I think I was hungry when I went shopping so I came back with the jumbo box of Ritz.  
Well, since we already had the crackers I picked up some Rolos at the store.  And Graham and Nathan helped me make this very easy snack.  

First you unwrap the Rolos.  Then you place them on the cracker.

Then you smile big in your Wolverine costume.  

Then you put them in an oven (350 degrees) for about three or four minutes.

Then you take them out and smash another cracker on top.

Everyone loved them.

He gave it a thumbs up.

He thought they were pretty good too.

Hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween!

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Fall Night on the Porch

 Our fall has been a little crazy.  I think this is our new norm as our kids get older.  In this season of kids, we have left behind the chaos of toddlers and gained the busyness of older kids and their activities.  But in the winter, we take a break.  We get to spend evenings at home being together.  I'm so looking forward to it.  Our activities are winding down and I'm hoping to spend more nights like this.  

Here Chris is reading Where the Red Fern Grows to the boys while we eat a light supper.  And by a light supper, I mean peanut butter and banana toast :) 
{the color version}

{the black and white version}

{the sepia version}
Which version do you like better?  

Here's a little peak into our school room.  I spy a list of prepositions on the left and and some common and proper nouns on the right ;)

I love all these boys.  And I look forward to many more evenings on the porch just like this one.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tervis Cups for the Win!

Ever since we've (sadly) beyond sippy cups, we go through a million water glasses a day.  Usually the top of my dishwasher was filled with them.  I thought about using color coding for water glasses, but with those little kids' Ikea cups we were using, there's purple and pink and I know not any of my boys would be thrilled if that was the color they were assigned.  So I never did, and we used lots of water glasses.  And that was that.

But then on our vacation, we stumbled upon a Tervis store at the Mall of America.  There was something for everyone in there and I ended up letting the boys pick out there own cup, in hopes that they might solve our water glass problem. 

Our island is butcher block so while it's water resistant, it's not water proof.  It's best not to leave a regular glass on it for a long period of time, because it will leave a water mark.  That's another benefit of Tervis cups; they don't make condensation on the outside of the glass.  So no ring marks on my counter... or coffee table or where ever else they decide their cup.

A typical lunch :)  It's louder than it appears.

It was fun to let them pick what they wanted on their cups.  Some knew exactly what they wanted.  Others had to comb through every cup in the store and changed their mind multiple times.

Superman for this one.  Easy choice because he thinks he IS Superman.

Also, another easy pick.  Rangers all the way!

Joseph had a harder time.  There isn't just one thing that defines him.  He waffled over several cups but in the end decided on one that had a cool bear on the front and said Minnesota on the back.  He wanted it to be a reminder of our vacation in Minnesota.

Another easy choice.  He's been a Twins fan since we lived in Minnesota.

Graham went back and forth a little, but decided that he's a Republican and he's sticking to it!

And just for the info... I do have rules because the cups were a bit of an investment.  They aren't allowed to leave the house.  We don't even take them in the car.  They MUST stay in the house! I'm a very mean mom, can you tell? ;)

Fall Snack Mix

These colder temps this last week have been delightful, haven't they?  I went to WalMarts this weekend to get some fallish things for a church party we were having at our house.  They were OUT of apple cider.  Can you believe it?  The nerve of being out of something in America ;)  I love how everyone has the same idea.  Apparently colder temps = apple cider.
I did buy a lot of fun processed foods to throw together into a snack mix to have out as an appetizer/snack for the party.  We were having over people of all different ages, so I thought there should be something in it for everyone.  Please excuse the popcorn in this picture.  It's not in the snack mix.  I used it to make kettle corn.  It's a yummy fall snack as well.  I took this picture before I made the kettle corn so imagine the table with a big bowlful of kettle corn on it as well!

Little cute pumpkins compliments of WalMarts.

So next time you have a party, whip yourself up some snack mix.  It's easy and fun and you don't have to cook anything.  And sometimes, I simply don't have the time to get my house picked up and cook something. 

The End :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Homeschooling Through the Years

We're seven weeks in to our home school year.  And this is my seventh year home schooling.  I can't believe how fast it's gone.  I was organizing our school notebooks last weekend and paged through some of their old work.  Each of my little "students" are so different.  They have different learning styles, strengths and weaknesses, and learn at different paces.

Looking back at home schooling is a bit like looking back to the time when you had one kid after you have your second child, or your third.  I remember having Asher and wondering why in the world I ever thought having just Graham was a challenge.  What's hard about a baby?  After all, they don't throw tantrums, talk back to you, or hardly disrupt your life at all?  In hindsight, most things seem easier.  That's why our younger kids have things easier, and our firstborns get our more stressful selves.  I looked back at home school stuff from earlier years and wondered why I thought some stages were so hard, because each one seems more difficult and more all-consuming than the year before.  Graham was a later reader and it completely gave me a complex.  I was so nervous about it.  Now he's my most avid reader, way beyond his grade level.  Joseph has been a later reader and I haven't even given it much thought.  I spent a whole year pushing Graham to do something he wasn't ready for.  And with Joseph, I just stopped for about six months and picked up the very same book, and now we're breezing through it.  No stress at all.

It's a whole new ballgame having bigger kids.  For so many years, home schooling was hard because it had to be accomplished in the midst of diapers, breastfeeding, inconsistent napping, and toddler fits.  Now that I don't have any of those things, it IS more peaceful around here (except when it's not) but that's traded in for a whole lot more school work.  

I'll leave you with a few pics from our days...
We still do these clipboards.  The boys love crossing things off.  And I like that they don't need to ask me what they need to do.

This year, I splurged and bought and all new pencils, colored pencils and crayons.  I had plenty, but I allowed myself to throw them all away.  I wanted to buy new school stuff just like everyone else.  It was $10 well spent, more for my sake than the boys!

And so pretty in the sunlight :)

I'm spending more time with Jopie this year.  He always whines a bit when we get started, but enjoys it in the end. 

I will be very sad when those teeth grow in.

A lunch break on the back porch.

And one day, we finished early and they got to watch a movie while I got a few things done in peace.  This was one of those rare days when the stars aligned just right and we got it all done in record time.

I hope to do a few more home school posts this fall.  I always feel a little silly giving advice, but I think I've learned a thing or two over the last seven years.  There's a few things I wish I knew when my kids were younger.

I'd better get back to my day.  We're enjoying this rainy Monday.  Things are more relaxed because Daddy is home, thanks to Mr. Columbus! :)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Family Vacation {The Minnesota Part, Final Edition}

This whole post proves that grandparents are more fun than parents.  All year long my mom buys random things at CVS and Walgreens for my kids to enjoy when they come.  Ask her and she'll tell you about her love for those two stores.  She for sure takes advantage of whatever rebate/coupon/points systems they have.  Her shelves are full of random Walgreens and CVS finds.  Case in point... water balloons.  She has hundreds of them.  And she also has the patience to sit out on the driveway for over an hour and fill them.  I do not have the patience, just for the record.  And also, for the record, water balloon fights never end well in our family.  It's all fun and games until it's not all fun and games.  If only boys weren't super competitive and didn't think they were competing in the water balloon olympics or something.

My mom joined in at her own risk.

Notice here that Nathan is not enjoying the fun and games. 

And he really didn't like it when I wanted to take a picture of him not enjoying it.  I think these tears were shed because his balloons all broke on the ground and not on the person he threw them at.... DRAMA!

Then Grandpa came home and made everything better.

You have to love this kind of homecoming.

This was a different day.  With the cousins.
Team One

Team two

And here's where I had to put my camera down to be the mom because more drama was happening.  But the pictures look fun, don't they?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Potato Corn Chowder

I've been in a major soup rut for about, I don't know, maybe two years.  It's a significant rut.  I love soup because it's (mostly) healthy, and it's an inexpensive way to feed a family of growing boys.  My oldest LOVES potatoes, so potato soup is his favorite, but not everyone is crazy about plain old potato soup.  So I decided to try something different than our normal recipe and everyone loved it... a win for me!  
Let's call this soup Potato Corn Chowder.  It also has green chile sausage in it.  But Potato Corn Chowder with Green Chile Sausage sounds a bit cumbersome, don't you think?

Start with potatoes.  Chop them and put it in a pan with some onion.  I would do this in a non stick pan, mainly because I can't stand cleaning a pan with burnt potatoes on the bottom.

Throw some butter in and saute it for awhile until the butter is melted and the onions are translucent.

Then add enough water to cover the potatoes and cook/boil until the potatoes are tender.  This takes about 15-20 minutes.

It will look like this.  

\\This is the part where I stopped taking pictures.  I can't remember why.  Sorry about that.\\

But here's the rest.  Then you add about as much whole milk as you added water.  You can use half and half or cream if you want.  I just like it a little lighter.  Cook until the soup comes to an almost boil. You don't want to scald the milk. 

Then I added the following:
*1 pound of green chile pork sausage I found at Sprouts.
*Roasted corn from Trader Joes (in the freezer section already roasted and all you have to do is heat it up a bit in a pan.  Super easy!)
*Add salt (lots) and pepper to taste.

Top with grated cheese and enjoy!