Sunday, August 26, 2012

4H, Mexican Casserole & Marble Play

Our family has been working hard on household chores, preparing for the visit of 'Grame' who will come in a few weeks to see our daughter show at fair.  My mother and my best friend- I look forward to visits with her, seeing her in person.  Although we do talk on the phone several times a week, an in person chat, a hug is something the soul craves from family and friends who are far away.  The children both miss their grandparents and family and friends as well although we love our new life adventure of our move, we miss the relationships we left behind.

4H All Day!
The weekend was full of 4H- rabbit and poultry tagging and weighing and a rabbit showmanship clinic.  Our daughter enjoys every opportunity to dress up and practice her showmanship skills.  The other night while making dinner she begged me to quiz her.  I think fair is nearly as exciting for us as parents as for her as the child- there is nothing better than watching your child, do something they love, and for our daughter, it is her animals and being a part of 4H.

 Poor brother, played so hard with some other boys at the fairgrounds, he fell fast asleep after lunch in the car on the drive home!

We made it home, to drop off the rabbit, grab some food, pick up hubbie, we were off again to the fair grounds to support our clubs livestock kids at their show- They did fantastic with their goats and steers! Our daughter watched as they groomed their animals for show. It is awesome to see these kids with these large animals- our daughter sat up in the stands whispering under her breath to me...'They are really good- it's cool- I don't know if I could do that with such a big animal'...appreciating the talent her fellow club members have. She does so look up to the friends in her group.

Mexican Casserole
A new meatless recipe, although next time I'm going to cut down on the spicy- too hot for the kids and even a bit too hot for me- hubbie enjoyed it though!
Saute 1 small onion chopped, then add 1 medium green bell pepper chopped, saute until soft.
Add chili powder, garlic, cumin, salt to taste.
Pour in 4oz can of green chili's, 1-  15oz can of black beans, 1 cup of refried beans,  1- 15oz can of diced tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups of white rice.
Layer corn tortilla, bean mixture and cheese then layer once more - bake at 400 for about 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly.
Serve with Lettuce, Tomato, Sour Cream on top.

I found a few new great vegan websites so we are ready to try several new recipes this week! I love cooking! I started off a year ago barely cooking, making the same dishes and with our meatless journey I have really spread my wings, tried new things and found enjoyment in the kitchen cooking for my family.

Weekly FUN and Marble Play
In between our cleaning, animal duties, 4H fun and my work week, we did find time for lots of fun as well!  Our usual weekly trip to the library- I love that the kids can't ever get enough- our son has found a love for fancy story books and pop up stories that can not be checked out- so he sits quietly in the children's area reading them, begging to stay at the library all day.

Our favorites for the week:

Vegetarian Times Magazine
Indonesian Foods

Our 12yr old daughter:
Warriors Series
Seekers Series
American Girl Books

Our 7yr old son:
Batman Phonics Books
Pirates of the Caribbean Chapter Books
Beast Quest Chapter Books

Also this week we played board games, watched movies, made an indoor tent, made get well cards for a family friend, did doggie training, researched 4H questions online, shopped for science dissecting kits and eyed other science schooling items, had snuggle reading time and played marble works.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Small Town's...Just A Thought

Just some Thoughts for the day...
Heading to a work meeting an hour away my mind thought about the big city we came from. It was only a few short years ago we were in the midst of the hustle and bustle of it all oblivious that there was any life outside of the busy kind. It's interesting the things you notice when you slow down, when life slows down, when you see so clearly whats most important in life.  Not to say you can't find this in the big city, but we didn't...only once we moved have we found our path.

Looking out the window as I made the hour drive to my meeting...not in traffic, not in bumper to bumper, not with smoggy skies, not next to rows and rows of cars, or buildings so high I couldn't see.  I got to drive to my meeting, looking out at the open fields, houses here and there, mountains on all sides, beautiful clouds rolling in and I felt at peace. There's some kind of connection in a small town- to nature, to the people, to the earth, to life and family and God- at least for me. It's amazing.We have met amazing families, had amazing adventures and explored amazing places and our journey has only begun....

God Bless this Life that has led our family down this wonderful path.
I am truly thankful.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Roping, Sewing Socks & Nature

I'm smiling as I upload and go through pictures of our weeks adventures. It has been another wonderful, beautiful week of life together. We did stay home quiet a bit as I had work to do but in between my phone calls and paperwork we had fun too! Adventures, board games, movies, cleaning, fun, play, make believe, reading, nature, crafts and more....

A Mom's gotta work but a Mom's gotta be a MOM too!  A few things we did this week....

Our son tried his hand at 'roping' and exclaimed he was a Cowboy as he roped the shop vac in the house :) and the dogs got wild watching this rope go round and round above his head. 

 It was fun to see him twirl it, trying over and over until he finally 'caught' something!

Sewing Socks
Our daughter found the cutest book- she loves crafts and sewing and is always cutting up odds and ends and sewing up doll clothes, stuffed animals, toy dolls and anything else she can think of. At times she has found socks hmmm..that some how had lost their partners and has made things out of them. At the library she found a book specifically for making animals out of socks....she worked on a cat all afternoon one day. My son and I worked together on a pig for him- it was so fun!

I highly recommend the book- Stray Sock Sewing- it has wonderful, simple idea's for kids to sew.

Nature is Beautiful
We took a little road trip, trying to hunt down a new place to go adventure, hike, explore and picnic. We came to a Wildlife Preserve, read, explored then headed to a nearby park for a picnic dinner. Then the next morning for a little swim in the cool water until lunch time...fresh air, water and nature.  I dipped my toes as I watched them play and read my book in between.  Slowly breathing in and out as I enjoyed the moments of their laughter together as they pulled each other back and forth in the water and beckoned me to come in with them...I did of course! We saw various dragon flies, fish in the water and commented on all the boats pulling in and out.

We are busy as fair approaches, assisting our daughter to prepare, study and take care of her animals. She is so excited to see friends she hasn't seen for a while, anxious to tell the visitors to the fair about her projects and animals and thrilled that her Grame is coming to see her show in person. A few short weeks to go. We are so proud of her!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Work Trip, Guinea Pig, and Vegan Recipe's

Good Morning, 
I am thankful for my moment of quiet in the mornings, with my cup of coffee, a favorite book or reading one of my favorite blogs.  I feel blessed to be able to slowly wake, breathe in and out as I contemplate the day before me.  I enjoy the morning, when one child awakes and we have our alone snuggle moment then they so quietly cuddle up on the couch and ease into their day. Then the next child awakes and we do it again...ease into our morning, ease into our day, enjoy the first few moments together then get started on our breakfast and chores. It makes such a difference to not rush into our day at full speed but to take it in a little at a time.....

 Heading out of Town...
Work led me out of town to Phoenix for the day last week.  My sweet boy pleaded with me at bedtime the night before to please not go but a few extra hugs and kisses settled him down.  In the morning I was able to make the kids breakfast and get in a few more snuggles before heading out for the long day.

I don't mind road trips, I enjoy them, with or without the kids. Gives me time to myself, time to think, time to listen to my choice of music :) so I opted for a little country blue's song and admired the beautiful sky and landscape as I drove.

 On the way home, the rain came...
 Just about 45 min from home, watching the sun set...
I made it home just in time to tuck my kids in bed and kiss their sleepy heads.

On the Animal Front...
Our family is always playing 'Veterinarian' to all these animals we have, keeping them clean, safe, well fed, well taken care of and problem solving when things do come up. One of our guinea's was fine one morning and the afternoon his eye was completed clouded over and gooey.  Come to find out, he had gotten a piece of hair stuck, we gently removed it and went to the store.  When asking the pharmacist where the eye ointment was without cortisone and having to explain it was for a guinea pig I'm happy to report I gave not only him a big laugh but the line of people behind me- yes I just asked for medication for a guinea pig people!  Purchased the ointment and applied when we got home and within 3 days he was already cleared up. What a relief!

A few Meals from Last Week:

Mushroom Eggplant Rice:
1 Eggplant, Soaked in Salt/Water then Cubed and Sauteed until Tender
1 Cup of Baby Bella Mushrooms and 1/2 Cup of Onion Sauteed with Garlic, Salt, Pepper and Italian Seasonings
3 Cups of Cooked Rice- your choice White/Brown/Wild
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup, 1/2 Cup of Sour Cream or Cream, 1 Cup of Veggie Broth, Put it all together and simmered for 15 minutes and yumm, a warm, filling Meatless Meal!
Veggie Enchiladas:
Baby Bella Mushrooms, Olives, Onion, Tomatoes, Cheese, Mild Enchilada Sauce, baked for 20 minutes at 350 then served with beans and topped with Sour Cream, Guac, Salsa and Fresh Tomatoes and Lettuce! So great!

Ballet & Cocoa!
Christmas also came to our home this past week...the children have been listened to the Nutcracker nonstop.  Not that I mind one bit. I am looking forward to taking them at Christmas time to the ballet to see it. They also opted for some hot cocoa as they hummed along to the songs.  My mommy heart just smiled as I gazed upon my two sweets enjoying such wonderful music.

Oh and did we tell you...his OFFICIAL name after much deliberation and
Our pup is growing into a big boy- growing every day, exploring new things and getting into more things! Every day is a new challenge and one we welcome as he has been a great addition to our family.

Until tomorrow, when we do it all again to live and enjoy this beautiful life together as a family.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Summer of FUN, felt food, airplane races, vegan meals & river!

Sipping my coffee, reading over some inspiring blogs about simple living, gardening, homesteading and unschooling I figured it was the perfect quiet time before the day gets started to update our own family blog.

As I type, my sweet boy is standing here all geared up saying take a picture for our blog! Don't ask why there is a bicycle helmet on his back...boys! :)

Well its been two weeks and we've been busy, not going out busy just doing a lot of things together at home, taking care of our animals, doing crafts, cooking and learning how to work together in not our 'chores' but our 'family' work. We've had our ups and downs and a lot of fun too!

Crafts, Learning & Play Time

I LOVE to play with my kids! I'm not the mom who hands them an activity and goes about my business...I sit with them, draw with them, engage with them...PLAY with them!! As Mom's we get so busy, we do have to wear many hats but don't underestimate the most important one, being REALLY there for your kids, involved and engaged!

One rainy day when we couldn't get any fresh air, the kids were kind of going stir we:
Made Drawings- the kids designed what they wanted their new rooms to look like when we move, Popped plastic Air Bags and Built Bunny Homes with Crackers, PB and sprinkles! That crazy concoction started with our son stating 'I want to experiment!' First, no pics- the kids took marshmallows and stuffed them with sprinkles to see what they would do, then did the same with a few drops of food coloring to see if it would spread.  I was all for it but did advise if they were going to 'experiment' and something exploded, they had to 'clean up'!

Paper Airplane Designing & Origami:
The kids originally made just simple airplanes and then researched online together to find how to make different designs, then they measured and charted which ones went farther/faster...and found out the design 'bullet' went the fastest and the farthest! Fun summer learning at its best!

Our daughter can never put down a great book, so one afternoon while she read, our son took over the kitchen table with his Lego's! He and I were on a mission to build a town until he got side tracked and attempted to build the largest lego person ever!
Inspired by all the Felt items out there...and since our daughter loves American Girl dolls we decided to pursue making some 'felt' food together...SUSHI it was..For these ones we took the easy way out and just hot glue gunned them instead of sewing, kids cut all the material themselves and designed them! And Mom helped with the hot glue!
A visit to Grandpa's promotes an impromptu dance party where the kids took over the camera!

Our daughter has been talking about designing her own website and pursuing finding out how to start her own cupcake/sweets this day with little brother looking on, she worked on designing her logo.
While I cooked dinner...I found I had some company behind me...set up his cars town on the dog bed and was playing quietly. He smiled and told me he just wanted to be 'with' me. Those moments just melt your heart.

Meals & Cooking FUN
Two new recipes I tried this week: We are still going strong in our meatless meals and staying away from animal protein. Although we do at times have a little bit of cheese or sour cream, we are completely meat, egg and milk free.

Crockpot Falafel with Tzatiki Sauce
Too bad we started eating before I remembered to get a pic, but Sara over at Repeat Crafter Me got some good looking pics..and I've included her recipe too:
Now the recipe does call for an egg- we substituted it for 1/3 cup of applesauce, our staple for egg substitution.  And the sauce!? To die for...I'm kind of obsessed...I put it on a veggie sandwich later, dipped chips or crackers in it- it is sooo good!

Veggie Sushi
We made two different kinds of rolls: The first Roll was Avocado, Shitake Mushrooms, Cucumber and Carrots. The second Roll was Feta Cheese and Red Onion.

Zucchini Herb Casserole
I followed the recipe exactly from All Recipes here: RECIPE and it turned out great! Everyone loved it! Served it with a side salad and some crusty bread.

Kids baked Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting and Sprinkles for a Treat!

Puppy River Time! 
We ventured out to the river and decided to bring the new pup to see how he would like the water. He was slightly apprehensive at first but after the kids were in he wanted nothing more than to tromp in the water after them! He was too cute running in and out, then helping our son dig a hole and he even found a stick to throw around!

And as usual we have gone to the Library each week only this last week we met up with wonderful other home schoolers for some park and water play time too. It was so great to be amongst other home schooling mothers. My soul definitely needs to keep connected to these great mommy's.

What our 7yr old is reading: Our 7yr old is on a 6 week challenge: to read every day for 6 weeks until we 'start' school. We do have a chart with stickers but I don't like 'bribing'. I leave it to him- I ask him when he wants to read but he knows if he doesn't he doesn't get that sticker. At the end of the 6 weeks we plan on taking a 'YAY you did it!' family bowling trip. And even if he doesn't he still gets to go because its the effort put forth! He has been doing wonderfully so far. He is not quite at the point where he loves reading but I've noticed he does like it a lot more now that he is becoming better with it...Time and Patience I remind myself. I continue to be there and give him the support and love he needs through this challenge.
What our 12yr old is reading: This week her choice was education...HER choice!! :) My mommy heart is beaming!
Well and one for fun:
What I'm reading...yes recipes! And I've got some wonderful books on their way to the library....

We've had a ton of fun and there's only more to come. We also have some hard work ahead as we prepare for Fair for our daughter and support her as she works hard and shows next month.

Aside from cooking, crafting, friends and the library, Me and Daddy have been working hard and also starting to look for houses. Our hope is to purchase our own little homestead, by Christmas would be wonderful but we know God has a plan for us and we have to be patient and pray and see where he guides us on our journey.