Thursday, October 31, 2013

October's Favorite Things

1 & 2: Sunday morning walks with just my husband and our dog

3 & 4: our dear friends' wedding (and after the wedding ;)

5: my first time at bunco
6: drinks with my best girl, Bonnie

7: chaperoning a first grade field trip to the zoo
8: a brisk morning of walking at my son's elementary school walk-a-thon

9: watching Narls at gymnastics
10: watching Em cheer

11: homemade poptarts
12: and a Britney song was on

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Pumpkin

Meet Pumpkin (it's fall, he's orange, it makes sense).
Our new kitten.

We needed another pet, like, not at all, but we went to Home Depot and there was a whole box of these free furry bundles of adorableness and we were powerless to leave without one.

We've had him about a month now, and he's a perfect fit. The kids adore him; in fact, Emerson has declared him as hers and he gets daily walks in her baby carriage.  The only one not at all fooled by his sweet looks is Snowmeow. She wants nothing to do with this baby. I think she'll come around though.

I mean how could you not?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Traditions and Memories, Halloween Style

It's a Church tradition to take our kiddos through Crossroads Village for their annual Ghosts and Goodies trick-or-treating. And just like prior years, 2012 and 2011, it was a great time.

Narls' first ferris wheel ride. He was positive he was going to throw up, then "the feeling went away" and all was well. I don't think he'll be first in line to ride another one though.

Magic show! Em's favorite part :)

Another year of making memories ♥

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Creative Homecoming Invitation

My amazing little brother spent the weekend with us, and he and I worked on some super secret craft stuff.

He highlighted and bedazzled a soccer ball for his girlfriend, who is a pretty sweet soccer player, and used it to ask her to their sophomore homecoming.
When he left my house, he went to meet her. He picked up some flowers on the way and was waiting for her after her soccer tournament with them and the decorated ball, and he asked her in front of her father and of course she said yes.

I mean he's handsome, resourceful, and romantic! What girl wouldn't???

Love you, Lukey! And so insanely proud of you.
♥ ♥ ♥

Friday, October 25, 2013

Carvin' Pumpkins


Pumpkin carving & kiddos in matching Halloween jammies & The Nightmare Before Christmas & It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown & rum and ciders & cinnamon candles & homemade caramel apples. 

It doesn't get any better.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pumpkins, Cider, and Donuts, Oh My!

Fall is very much upon on and my family has been busy with our annual autumn traditions. Traditions that are near and dear to my heart, like visiting our favorite pumpkin patch for the sixth year in a row.  We went on a sunny, brisk Wednesday afternoon. And we had the whole place to ourselves.


I'd take a paper cup of cider over a pumpkin spice latte any day.

Especially when it comes served a slice of these two.

We added something something new this year- a trip through the corn maze. There were frightened tears and exclamations that we'd never make it through, but we did and it was fun. ;)

Happy things where ever we looked- down and up.

Until next year, Spicer's. ♥

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Life Lessons, Disguised As Soccer Practice

Clay and I signed Narls up for soccer in September. He's played on & off for the last three or four years, easy skill-building sessions geared for toddlers and small children. He didn't play at all last year and we didn't think he'd play this year, but he showed interest during Emerson's game so Clay talked to Em's coach who found an age-appropriate team for him.

We showed up for his first practice and I could immediately tell this season was different from those we've done in the past. These boys were good. And competitive. And close. "Guys, this is Narls" the coach said to them. A few of them started snickering. "Naaaaaarllls. Your name is Naaaarls." More snickering.
I busied myself with setting up my chair, situating my coffee, finding a book for Em.
The coach started practice with some drills and Narls seemed lost. I don't know what sessions these kids have been playing prior, but they weren't the easy ones we were doing. They were completing passes and dribbling and staying in position while my kid was trying his hardest just to keep up, all the while with an eager smile that was breaking my heart. 

The taunting continued the whole hour.  The coach discouraged it by refusing to make a big deal of it, giving the kids sharp orders to focus on soccer.  One kid, who will forever have my heart, got right in the face of the main taunter and yelled "QUIT MAKING FUN OF HIM".  I internally debated between sitting back and watching, letting Narls have this life lesson, or getting up and pulling my boy into a protective hug and telling the jerk kids and their jerk parents what huge jerks they all were. 
I opted to stay seated. But throughout it all I telecommuted to my boy, you're awesome, you're doing great, ignore those kids, with lots of thumbs up and brave smiles. 

After practice, the coach came up to me and said Narls did great. That he's tough. That he has a solid soccer foundation and he'll fit right in and he'll see us tomorrow morning for their game. I noticed two kids - the kids who did the majority of the teasing - running laps as we drove away.
In the car, Narls asked me why the kids were teasing him. I told him I thought it was because he's new. Those boys have been playing together for a while it seems. I bet they probably even know each other from school. The new kid - at sports, at school, at work when you get older - always gets some razzing. They're seeing how strong you are; they're waiting for you to prove yourself.
He nodded at my answer and looked out the window. I could tell he was thinking it over. Analyzing it. I like how Keiffer stood up for me, he said. Me too, I told him. 

That night I told Clay that the coach most definitely would NOT be seeing us at tomorrow's game because we weren't going back. This isn't the league for us. Narls is sad. He's traumatized. The kids are jerks. Their parents are jerks.
But you know what? We went to tomorrow's game. Narls woke up excited. Ready. He wasn't sad. He isn't traumatized. Those kids aren't jerks; they're kids.  They tease. That's what kids do. And the parents aren't jerks either; they're struggling to know when to step in and when to let their kids work it out themselves, just like Clay and I are. 

The team's last game is this Saturday. We've been to every one and Narls has played his heart out. He's improved a ton during these eight weeks, which is evident on the field. He's confident. He's completing passes and dribbling and staying in position. He hasn't made a goal yet, but he's hungry for one.  He's made friends with his teammates, too; they laugh and run together and easily pass the ball to each other.  There is still teasing but Narls is now dishing it, as well as receiving it. And when he feels that he's had enough, he sticks up for himself.

This has been good for him.
And it's been good for me.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Week 4 of Healthy School Lunches (with recipes!)

Well I did it.
I made my kids (mainly my first grader) twenty school lunches - four week's worth - that had a ton of variety and are nutritious and delicious.
I made a recipe card for each lunch, printed them out, and have them stored in my recipe box. When I do my weekly meal plan & grocery list, I pull out that week's lunch recipes and I know immediately what I need to buy and how long it'll take me to assemble the lunch.
Absolutely no guess work and no stress. Two things that make my busy mornings that much less busy.
This is the fourth week of homemade lunches. If you're curious, you can see week one here, week two here, and week three here.
a peanut butter & jelly sandwich made a bit more fun with a puzzle-shaped sandwich cutter, honeydew melon chunks, orange pepper slices, and a cereal bar
a healthier version of the pizza lunchable made with whole wheat pizza rounds, pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, and nitrate-free pepperoni, served with diced kiwi fruit, and a homemade mini banana muffin
an easy pasta salad made with bowtie noodles, Italian dressing, and some shredded cheddar cheese, served with orange wedges, celery & peanut butter, and a small slice of homemade banana bread

(Tip: I used the same batter to make a loaf of bread and some mini muffins, which is great for variety but easy because you're only doing one prep. Freeze some of the muffins and individual slices of  bread for future lunches.)

homemade whole wheat pancakes & with some maple syrup, a mix of organic pretzels & cheddar bunny crackers, and some diced apples
a homemade healthified pizza pocket, a homemade frozen yogurt pop, cottage cheese, and a mix of raisins & pistachio nuts
I know this week looks like I did a lot of baking with the pizza pocket and the bread and the pancakes, and I manage that by spending a couple hours a week, usually on a Sunday, making & freezing a recipe or two. In our freezer at any given time, you'll find pancakes, waffles, french toast, egg & cheese bakes, taquitos, pizza pockets, some type of bread and/or muffins - all homemade.
I even recently made homemade poptarts with fresh fruit and barely any sugar which are sitting in the freezer for special morning treats.  It sounds much harder and time consuming than it really is, trust me. And the more you do it, the easier it becomes. 
And the payoff - healthier homemade food that's actually cheaper to make than it is to buy and is ready at a moment's notice - is worth the investment.
Here are the recipe cards for the fourth week of school lunches: