This and That

We started school about a month ago already.  I was ready for more structure as were the girls.  We have still tried to throw in some normal summer stuff – like going to the park, the pool, shopping, bike riding, etc – once the girls get their schoolwork completed.  So far, so good on our curriculum choices.  I made some major changes this year – for one, I am putting together my own history curriculum.  Why?  I don’t know.  I may just be crazy.  I have tried a couple of different ones over the last couple of years and haven’t loved any of them.  This year I am using the Mystery of History as my outline but I am tweaking it and adding/subtracting from it quite a bit.  I love doing it, but I also know it could get old – as crazy busy as we are.  For now, however, it is working.  

We are using Magic School Bus Young Scientists Club for science this year (we bought a voucher from Educents for 1/2 off the club).  We spend the first few weeks learning about volcanoes.  We ended with an experiment.  It went way better than we expected.

 

We went to Indy this weekend for a wedding.  Kevin’s cousin, Danielle, got married in Lafayette on Saturday.  It was a beautiful wedding and the kids had a lot of fun.  Daphne is really amused by weddings right now – so she was thrilled to go.  

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One major milestone met this summer was this:

 

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Meal Planning

As mentioned here, I use Plan to Eat to meal plan.  My goal each week is to make sure that at least 80% of our meals are whole food recipes.  I get most of my ideas from pinterest – sometimes I have to manipulate things because of food allergies or because I am trying to make a recipe a whole food meal.

On Plan to Eat, I put meals in for each day, but when the meals are made ahead, I really don’t have to know more than 24 hours what meal we are going to eat. This week (and really into next week) I made:

Cilantro Lime Chicken – This is one of our favorites!  Sometimes we eat it over lettuce as a salad.  Sometimes over rice as a burrito bowl and sometimes we eat it as a burrito.  If I am overly ambitious, I will make these homemade tortilla shells.  The only difference is that I add a can of diced tomatoes.  Personally, we use all organic ingredients in this recipe – you obviously don’t have to.  With the leftovers, I make taco soup – just add a can of low sodium chicken broth and a can of rotel tomatoes with green chiles.

Taco meat – I use this taco seasoning but I add 2 TBS red pepper flakes.  My kids LOVE tacos so I try to always have taco meat in the freezer.

Slow Cooker Cheesy Spaghetti with Turkey Sausage – This is a new recipe for us.  I made the sausage and mix all the ingredients today.  I poured it in the crock pot and put it in the refrigerator.  I wasn’t sure if it would freeze well, so we ate this tonight.  We will also had a salad with veggies from our garden.   The girls had a bread that I made in the bread maker today.  They LOVE warm bread!  This tasted good, but I actually had to let it cook longer than the recipe said – the pasta wasn’t completely done.  I also added 1/2 cup of water about halfway through – I thought the noodles needed a little water to speed up the process.  Oh, and I used homemade spaghetti sauce instead of a jar of store bought.  For future reference, I will cook the noodles separately.  Once I mix in the noodles, I will pour it in an 9  x 13 pan and put it in the freezer.

Chicken, Broccoli, and Potato Bake – You will see that the recipe actually calls for green beans.  I have made this with green beans and it was great!  Everyone loved it.  We are having dinner with my sister, her boys, and my mom one night this week.  My nephew, Will, is the best broccoli eater so I decided to switch things up and put broccoli in it for him.  I don’t put the butter on top – instead, I drizzle 3 TBS of olive oil.  I also use a homemade Italian dressing mix.

Honey Lime Chicken Skewers – I cut the chicken up into pieces the right size for skewers.  Then I put the chicken in a ziplock freezer bag and pour the marinade on top.  I threw it in the freezer.  We will eat this with rice and maybe some grilled pineapple. No Peek

Beef Tips – This recipe comes from a combination of recipes.  Ingredients:  2 lbs beef tenderloin tips (I actually use beef stew meat this time), 4 ounces fresh mushrooms (sauteed), 1/3 cup of this mix, 1 cup of water, and this dry onion soup mix.  Mix everything together and put it in a 9 x 13 pan and put it in the freezer.  Put it in the refrigerator the day before.  The day of – put it in the over for 3 hours at 300*.

Spaghetti sauce – I make spaghetti sauce almost every time I cook ahead.  I mix it up and add lean ground beef to half of it.  I freeze it in about 4 containers (if I am not using it right away) – 2 meatless and 2 with meat.

We will also have homemade pizza at some point.  My brother passed along a pizza crust recipe that he loves and is really easy.  We love this because we can all have sections of pizza to put on our own toppings.

Snacks for the week –

Pumpkin Protein Bars – I know I am a sucker for anything pumpkin, but I LOVE these!  2 changes that I make – I don’t like to use artificial sweetener, so I use 1/4 cup of honey.  I also add 1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips.  I know both of these things add some calories but I feel like I am getting a treat this way!

Turkey Muffins – Kevin and I both eat these with a side of homemade marinara.

No Bake Energy Bites – My friend, Nhung, passed along this recipe.  Our kiddos have the same food allergies so she is fantastic about passing along recipes that she knows are safe for Daphne.  I used sunbutter – and these are delicious!

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins – We love these muffins!

I made some vanilla blueberry snack bars – the girls ate them, but I thought they smelled nasty.  Something about the combination of sunbutter and blueberries – bleh!

I really hope to be consistent and cook ahead once every other week or once a month.  We’ll see if I can keep it up as the school year continues!

Wet and Wild

 

 

 

We took the girls last week to Silver Dollar City.  While it rained A LOT – we still had a great time!  We intended on going to the water park at some point but the temperatures were WAY too cool for this mom to go to a water park!  We stayed in a fantastic condo – we used vrbo.com.  If you have never used this site – you should.  We found a great condo for a fantastic price!  I love having a kitchen so we can do breakfast and dinner at the condo and then pack lunches/snacks for the day!  Without further ado – here are the few pictures that I took with my phone.   Not great – but at least I took some, right?

Ready for a fun day!

I can't remember what she was upset about!

I can’t remember what she was upset about!

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Lucy is very hesitant about most rides so we spent A LOT of time just hanging out together!

Lucy is very hesitant about most rides so we spent A LOT of time just hanging out together!

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The Old Schoolhouse – this is one of the girls’ favorite stop!

 

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Yep – this is how we spent much of our time!

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Norah said her favorite part of the trip was riding the swings in the rain.  ha!

 

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We spent some time playing games while we dried off!

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Sometimes as the oldest sister, you do things that make your sisters happy – even if you think it is boring.

 

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Entertaining ourselves while we wait for Kevin, Norah, and Daphne

 

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The girls can’t wait to go back and are hoping to get to the water park the next time!