Friday, August 30, 2013

First Day of MDO

This sweet thing started MDO this morning. 

She's such a big girl and didn't shed a tear.

I let her walk all the way from the car to her classroom so I wouldn't have to physically hand her off. I think it helped. 

She had a good day and I missed her like crazy. (Luckily I had things that had to get done today, so it kept me from wandering around our house missing my kids.)

I was packing TWO lunchboxes last night and just couldn't believe it. It seems like just yesterday I was preggo with Lizzy adn toting Jay around and now they're both so big. Time flies. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

All About Jay

A few days after Jay's 3rd Birthday I asked him a series of questions about his favorite things.

Then our first homework assignment for preschool this year was an "All About Me" poster. 

Here are the results--

Favorite Food: Tacos

Favorite Color: Green

Favorite Drink: Sprite

Favorite Song: 1994 (Jason Aldean)

Favorite Book: Diggers (its and Usborne Book)

Favorite TV Show: Shaun the Sheep when Santa comes...(although, it is actually Shaun the Sheep I think his fave is Supersize Timmy)

Favortie Toy: Blocks

Favorite Game: Feed the Horse

Best Buddy: Daddy

Place to Go: Davis' House

Place to Eat: Chick-fil-A

Ice Cream: Oreo and Milkshake

What do you want to be when you grow up? "Move TVs. Davis gonna grow up and help me move this big TV to the work truck. We tell the little kids to move back, Davis gonna help me carry all this furniture and we gonna drive. We all gonna grow up big and bigger. We gonna drive to huntin'club. Me and Davis gonna drive golf cart and work trucks." Alrighty then. 

Here's how his poster came out. Except he added about 6 more tractors and corn pickers to it before we were actually done. For this assignment he also said his favorite color was blue, so that is what we went with. 

He did most of the work himself. He helped me cut the "meat" and "cheese" and he glued his taco all together by himself. He picked all of the pictures himself. I drew the stick figures of his cousins, but he chose all of the colors for their hair and colored it himself. He came up with the idea to draw a tree and wanted me to draw the treehouse, he colored the slide and painted the other pieces himself.

He is SO FULL of life and spirit. He is strong and brave. He is persistent. He is generous and gracious.

He is so curious. He loves to ask me questions, you know the really easy kind:

Mommy, how does an engine go?

Mommy, what's inside my body?

Mommy, where is Heaven?

Mommy, where's my blood?

Mommy, what is Nature?

Mommy, how do fish breathe?

Mommy, where was I before I got born?

Three is fun. He keeps us laughing and keeps us praying for a happy heart for him always. Amen.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2 new muffins

We're definitely on a muffin kick and I wanted to get these two recipes added to the collection quickly before I forget how much we like them.

Based on the overwhelming success of the Awesome Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins at our house, I came up with my own recipe that has been another hit.

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
Begin with the basic dry ingredients combined in a bowl:
1 and 1/2 Cups of flour
1/2 cup white sugar
2 T brown sugar
1 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Then add:
1/2 cup oatmeal (dry)

1/2 cup bran buds (All-Bran or Grape Nuts)
2  very ripe mashed bananas
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)

Now add your wet ingredients:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Scoop into lined muffin cups (only fill 2/3 full), bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

The result is a rich, hearty muffin that will start your day off right. They make an awesome snack, too!

Biscuit Muffins

I finally tried some biscuit-muffin cups and they turned out so great. This one is so east and tasty and both kids loved this breakfast. The parents did too!

You'll need:
1 package (8 count) refrigerated biscuit dough
1/3 package pre-cooked breakfast sausage crumbles (I used Jimmy Dean)
3 eggs
Splash of milk
Freshly grated cheddar cheese, to taste
salt and pepper to taste
**12 cup muffin tin AND A BAKING SHEET**

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray. Place one refrigerated biscuit into each muffin cup making a cup shape with edges just above top of pan. Mix all other ingredients in a small bowl and whip with a fork. I used a small ladle to dip the egg mixture into each of the 8 biscuit cups. I poured the leftover mixture into the 4 remaining spaces of my muffin tin. 

**Place muffin tin ONTO baking sheet then put both into the preheated oven.** The baking sheet is very necessary unless you like to clean your oven very early in the morning. Bake 12-15 minutes or until biscuits are golden and centers appear set. 

I would also add salsa or chopped veggies into this as a way to incorporate more veggies into our meals. I don't think you could go wrong with bell peppers (any color) some finely chopped mushrooms, spinach, or maybe even broccoli. oh, the possibilities!

The biscuits will rise somewhat irregularly, but the end result is beautiful.

and delicious. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Back to {Pre} School 2013

 Today was Jay's first day back at preschool. He was excited to go this morning and happily reported a good day when I picked him up this afternoon. 
 We snapped a few pictures before we left this morning. 
 He has a great teacher and I'm looking forward to all of the new things he will learn this year.
Here's to a great and BUSY school year! Ha!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Jay and Lizzy and all that is happening.

It's the last weekend of summer!!

I wish I had scads of pictures to recap life these days, alas, all I have are fragments of memories and funny stories that are filling our days. 

Forgive me while I share some here. 

Lizzy spoke a REAL sentence today. She's been saying "I need" and making a grabbing motion for about a month now when she wants something, and she's also been saying "In there" which really sounds more like "in'nare" when a door is closed ans she can't get it open. 

Tonight she was pulling on the fridge with all of her might saying "In there, in there" from across the room I asked what she wanted and she came from the fridge into the room looked right at me and said "I need in there, MAMA!" clear as a bell. 

Jay is currently asleep in the tent atop the treehouse for the second night in a row. Daddy is with him and may be regretting this little suggestion. 

Jay has been back and forth from the house and tent since yesterday. Lizzy would rather live there and never tries to get out. I believe she will be our happiest camper in years to come. It seems to be in her nature. 

School starts on Monday for Jay, who insists on telling everyone that he "starts Kindergarten on Monday". 

He also says he's 4. Every time he's asked. 

I made fig preserves today with figs from our very own tree we inherited and a recipe shared by my sweet neighbor Mrs. Jones. It was her mother's recipe and it is INCREDIBLE. I feel like I really accomplished something by canning 2 pints of preserves. This may be the start of a new hobby. 

Jay's new favorite snack is Milk Chocolate Chips. He calls them Hershey Kersheys. I have not corrected him. 

Lizzy has discovered baby dolls and has one or two in every room and car. She puts them in strollers, seats, makes a little bed for them on the floor and carries them (often upside down) most of the day. It is a sweet stage. 

Here's the thing about a 3 year old and 17 month old. When playing indoors the 3 year old can now play with one or two things for a good long while, pretending and imagining or building or making something and the 17 month old is all-over-everywhere-whirlwind-dangerous-Tasmanian-devil. Take them outside and it is the exact opposite. Lizzy is content in one little riding toy or mesmerized by her shadow or the wind or a twig and Jay is running, jumping, hey-mom-watch-this-ing at an alarming pace. There is no in-between with these two at this phase of life. 

This could be the reason that pictures are hard to come by these days. We're just so busy. At the end of the day there really isn't a whole lot to show for how busy we've been. Maybe some scribbles of sidewalk chalk, toys scattered from the tree house through the yard...some painted pictures drying in the playroom, kitchen utensils scattered hither and yon and a pile of books in the hall--but I can tell you we are busy as bees all day long. 

We sing and dance and act silly. I've been trying to teach Jay a little more "responsibility" in taking care of things around the house, helping with some jobs as well as doing some fun things like teaching him how to crab walk and give a thumbs-up. 

With Lizzy we spend time trying to sit and listen to most of a book read aloud, learning to pretend, coloring and talking, talking, talking. 

It's off to church in the morning--promotion Sunday and new Sunday Schools for the kiddos. Then wrapping up "summer vacation". 

Jay is so excited for school to begin and I can't help thinking about NEXT Summer and what our days will look like a year from now. I can hardly wait! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

5 on Friday

Another Friday?!?! Okay, here we go!!

1. I'm excited about making mini strawberry pound cakes for the kids' Sunday School teachers on Sunday. I've made this recipe once before and I had forgotten about it! I'll be dressing them up with these tags I blogged about last night. 

2. We've spent the second half of this week with a cold. I am praying for a restful weekend so we can have a normal week next week. It's our last week before preschool starts and I really need to get back to the gym if I'm going to finish a 5k in October.

3. Due to the colds and these being the last few days of summer I am fresh out of fun activities for the kiddos at home. One morning is week I just raided the pantry and headed to the playroom. I gave Jay some glue and told him we were making bird feeders.

I hope the birds like kidney beans and spinach rotini.

4. I got all set to paint the inside of the pantry door with chalkboard paint..then Jay saw it and got SO EXCITED to help me paint the door!!! Note to self: postpone this project until preschool starts. Keep the painting at preschool and in the playroom. This will NOT be a family project.

5. I'm still getting caught up on the blog and have more family recipes to post soon. I foun this pic on my phone and wanted to share.

This is my favorite knucklehead at the gym last week. Oh, to be 3!!!

 I've linked up for 5 on Friday! Click on over to check out more bloggers 5 on Friday posts!

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New House- Kids Rooms

I thought I should try to finish up the tour of New House before we hit the one year anniversary of New House!

To see the original house post click here. 

Pictures of the Kitchen and More are here.

Entry, Living and Dining Rooms are here.

Here are the kids rooms as they look today. These are the rooms we change most often because our needs and kids are changing most often.

Lizzy's Room

I made these clothespin frames before Lizzy's Party based on a tutorial from Life{Sweet} Life. Anyone can do it!

Jay's Room

And a peek at what else was happening in the 3 minutes I was taking these pics...

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Promotion Sunday Teacher Tags {printable}

In today's mail we received Jay and Lizzy's new Sunday School class assignments. Promotion Sunday is next week, so I'm planning to bring treats for all of their teachers this week as a thank you.

(I mean, I would like to give Lizzy's teachers bars of GOLD given all of the screaming they have so sweetly dealt with.)

I designed a little tag for their teacher treats and will write a note on the back. I'm sharing versions (without our names) in case you may want something for your teachers end of year gift as well. 

I'm just so grateful to these kind women who have welcomed my family into our church. I can't say enough about the welcome we have been given by this gifted group. 

A pink version....

And a blue....


Winner, winner (not chicken) dinner

Yesterday, I told you about our nuggetless month. I thought I'd share some new favorites we've found.

1. Mini Tomatoes-orange, yellow and red. I first mentioned them here.

2. Fried Okra!
Photo Source

Remember, this has been a month of introducing new things and eating more veggies, not necessarily "clean" eating.

Jay really, truly likes okra now and has even ordered it instead of fries at a restaurant. Of course there's ketchup involved and that's okay with me.

Grab a bag of frozen, or make your own when okra's in season, get out your iron skillet and it takes half the time of making French fries in the oven!

3. Meatballs {2 ways}

I don't know about you but ever since this episode of Duck Dynasty, I've questioned myself when making spaghetti and meatballs.

I made turkey meatballs (added plenty of seasoning), browned in a skillet and added a jar of sauce then simmered for maybe an hour. I also used vegetable spaghetti noodles. Jay has asked for "bisghetti" and meatballs over and over.  Joseph also asked me what kind of sausage I used, so I would say I seasoned it well and we didn't need pizza.

I also made "porcupine" meatballs, again using ground turkey. I used a Lipton onion soup mix and one bag of (uncooked) brown minute rice to make my meatballs. I browned them in a skillet, added a can of cream of mushroom and some chicken broth and covered the skillet to simmer for about 40 minutes.

I served them with a big salad and some Mac-n-cheese, (made with veggie noodles). Lizzy and Jay both ate them easily and I will definitely be keeping this in our rotation.

Sorry no food photos. I can't figure out when food bloggers take awesome photos of "what's for dinner" whilst actually cooking, serving and eating dinner. Perhaps I'll get that figured out soon. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

That time I forgot to buy chicken...

Almost a month ago, a perfect storm came about...

I'd been feeling like I wasn't doing enough to keep healthy veggies on the menu for the kids...

Jay's 3 year checkup and encouragement from our doctor to get and keep Jay eating new fruits and veggies....

I totally flaked and forgot to buy chicken nuggets at the store.

So, I thought this might be a good time to force us to eat different things instead of going back to the freezer to ol' faithful night after night.

I'm happy to share that we survived a month without chicken nuggets for dinner.

Not to say the kids haven't had their fair share as in a few trips to CFA and a couple of dinners out with grandparents, but we have only had them out and in moderation which is a win in my book.

We've tried lots and lots of new foods, not had a single fit or meltdown and no one has had to go on a hunger strike. I'm proud of this little accidental experiment.

And, in full-disclosure I bought some nuggets today and will probably serve them to the kids for dinner tomorrow.

Here's what I've learned--

1. If you don't ask, you won't receive. On the first night of my attempt to "get Jay to eat more veggies" I just cooked some steam-in-the-bag-with-cheese frozen veggies, put 1/2  cup in a small bowl for him and 1/4 for Lizzy. I just asked Jay to eat them and explained that we'd be trying new things like Dr. Malone said. He proceeded to eat his veggies right along with the rest of his meal and was proud in the end. Don't ask why this was surprising to me, it just was.

2. Asking a toddler to try something new is not the same as asking him to pretend he likes it. I had to remind myself that my request to the kids each day was "try it". They did it!! They did not, however, always have a good reaction. Its important to realize they are toddlers, not 5th graders and they do not have to clean their plates or use polite compliments. Nor do they know how. If something was gross to them they let me know.

3. This is not about me. Its my job to offer the new experience and encourage them to try new things, it is not my job to force feed them things they do not like in the interest of saying "My kids eat all of their veggies." or "My kids eat anything I put in front of them." A rejection or acceptance of food is just that. It is not a reflection of my parenting, cooking or care for my kids. It just isn't.

4. Getting them involved helps. This is true with Jay at 3, not so much with Lizzy at 16 months. We've taken more trips to the grocery store and Whole Foods with Jay on foot rather than in the cart. While it is more expensive to go this route, it has proven to get him interested in the produce department, paying more attention to what he sees people eating (in real life and on TV), and tasting things.

5. Samples are your friend. I'm sure this is not always true, but it has helped me to buy things I ordinarily wouldn't have and would keep me from buying things the kids won't like if we try then at the store first. Again, probably not the best tip if you're trying to manage your grocery budget to the penny, but for this it worked. We discovered cherry tomatoes, cherries and guacamole that we liked by doing this. I never would have bought the tomatoes or the cherries. It also provides good conversation points to go back to later.

6. Hide the veggies. Some things we've tried outright and others have been hidden. Chocolate Chip (Zucchini) Muffins are a good example. We've also tried Sweet Potato Biscuits. Both are yummy.

7. There's a place for everything. Yes, I am going back to keeping some nuggets on hand. Why? Because my kids do really like them. They will try new things, eat some fruits and vegetables and sometimes eat chicken nuggets and applesauce. I want them to try new things and find new favorites, I also want them to enjoy mealtimes and treats from time to time. That's what we do as adults, so I see no need to set a false set of expectations for my kids. We're just a real family, not a commercial for "clean" eating.

This month has forced me to cook creatively and rely of some tried and true family favorite recipes. I'll try to share some more this week to help me remember what worked and what didn't  keep handy here on the blog.

We've tried new meats, veggies, fruits, breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinner. It became more of an all around "shake up the menu" than an attempt to try every veggie under the sun. Maybe you've been here before and can share some tips with me or maybe you're on this journey yourself and we can all learn from each other. 

Better Bloglovin' late than Bloglovin' never!

So, it's nid-August and I have finally taken a moment to add the Bloglovin' reader button to the ol' bloggy.

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It's there just to make it easier to follow along with the West crew as you catch up on all of your favorite blogs.

So click away, or use the button to sign up for bloglovin' to keep all of your favorite families and blogs in one easy place.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Five on Friday

Another week has come and gone-- I missed last week"s Friday list and link up due to a very poor, pitiful, sickie, Lizzy-Lou. She's recovered from her virus and we're kind of back to normal. If you count Lizzy being spoiled rotten then we are totally back to normal.

Here's my list of 5 highlights from our week. Enjoy!

1. Silhouettes

I had the kid's silhouettes done last week by Erik Johnson. They are perfect.

I should also mention that it took him about 90 seconds per child to cut these. It was remarkable to watch!

2. Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

These are awesome. I found this recipe when Mel at Larson Lingo guest posted at eighteen25.

I've made them twice and I wouldn't change a thing. They are great, easy and everyone in our house is a member of the clean plate club when we've had these for breakfast.

3. Tomatoes

We dashed into Whole Foods one morning this week to get 2 things. Well, Jay just loooves those tiny carts, so I knew I was going to have some extras, but I never guessed it would be these guys.

Jay (after being prompted by the man stocking the tiny tomato display) tasted one as we went by (I was just standing there shocked)--then asked me "if we can get some, please, Mom" in his sweetest minding-his-manners voice. We got about a pint and Jay snacked on several more before we got to the check out and has eaten them every day since.

These are sweet and delicious and we're all loving them....even if they are ORANGE! Ha!

4. Lizzy

Jay did a bang around day with Daddy on Tuesday so I took Lizzy and our jogging stroller to a local park where lots of 5ks are held to get a feel for running there. It was a good lesson for me to keep up with training and that I can only get better!! After I recovered for a few minutes I took Lizzy over to the playground and she had fun in her own bashful, happy hippie way.

It was a fun way to see what days will be like when Jay starts school in a few weeks. He'll go three days and Lizzy just one. This was the only time (that I can recall) that I've taken sister to do something fun without brother.

5. Jay

He just started saying/singing this one morning this week and I wanted to catch it on video before he learns the right way to taunt someone.

I've linked up with Darci at The Good Life Blog and the gang to share my 5 on Friday with lots of other bloggers. I'll be back soon with more updates from the last few weeks now that Lizzy is well. Happy Friday!