4.27.2016

New Favorite Eats Around Here




These are our new, favorite, fresh-off-the-presses treat around here.  Like, We-just-found-this-Saturday-and-we've-already-made-four-batches treat.  I love/Love/LOVE carrot cake (which is why I love these muffins we make), so when I came across this recipe on Saturday morning (on Pinterest?  FB? Can't remember), I showed it to Elisabeth and said, "We should totally try this...I think they would be great!"  

And then I went out and mowed. 

And when I came back inside - voila, presto - E had made them!  (It is very handy (and dangerous) to have a 12-year old that loves to piddle in the kitchen!)

And they were gone before we went to bed Saturday night.  

So Sunday afternoon she made a double batch.  I took some to our Community Group on Sunday evening...which shows you how much we love those people.  

(Modifications: Elisabeth used 1/2 dates and 1/2 raisins instead of all dates, because....$$$.  And she subbed chia seeds for hemp hearts because we had them and they are super healthy for us.  Oh, and the second time we made them we (ok, I) sprinkled a little nutmeg and cloves in there along with the cinnamon because...YUM!)



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I don't have and photos of this recipe which is totally lame...but here goes...

We love the Chia Energy balls (we shape them into balls instead of bars) from Wellness Mama.  I originally found them in her cookbook I bought (LOVE her and wanted to support her), but HERE is a link to the recipe on her blog.

It is great to have something we can nibble on quick when it is mid-morning and we are plugging away at school.  And these little treats only have 4 ingredients...win/win!

(Modifications: We sub raisins for the dates to save money (and we just didn't have any dates on hand when we first tried this).  Out of the optional add-ins we only use shredded coconut.)


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Our two youngest still can't have eggs right now (I am taking the bumps that appear on G's face and the bumps that appear on A's belly as signs!).  So when I came across this egg-free "cookie" recipe I really wanted to give it a try for the babies.  









Just three ingredients - coconut, banana, raisins (we could add walnuts, but usually don't)

We shape them like big, thick cookies...and the babies LOVE these!  In fact, everyone loves these...and I have to tell them "Hands OFF!" so there are some left for G and A!!  



She was hoping that if she smiled big I wouldn't notice how much banana she snuck


G was very serious about his mixing...


...but also had a great time!




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And finally, here is our new favorite hearty meal...Sausage and White Bean Soup.  


We all (every. single. one. of the 8 of us) love this soup. Win!


And...I love how everyone is able to get in on the fun of making this soup.  


Here LK is prepping the garlic:




Noah is getting the sausage ready: 

We use venison sausage from the deer Jas got this winter

The onions on the counter (above Noah's left shoulder) in the background of this pic show Elisabeth's work station. I don't know how I missed a pic of her!)

Daniel washed and cut off the stem end of the carrots, and G fed them into the processor:




Daniel was very happy with me for some reason that I cannot recall now:





And here is how Abigail contributed:






She loves it!


This might not look like a happy face, but this is one of her current "camera smiles"...
she is going through an awkward phase



(Modifications: We use navy beans that I cook, not canned.  We use coconut oil to sauté the veggies at first, instead of olive oil...because olive oil has a lower smoke point and can burn and is best left for cold applications, like dressing. We use kale for our "green" in this recipe.  We omit the lemon juice...because I am lazy.)





4.26.2016

Recent Homeschool Group Happenings - Field Day and Okefenokee


For the last several years, our homeschool group has hosted a Field Day near the end of the school year.

A different mom organized (single-handedly I believe) the events this year, and did just another fantastic job!  (She must just have lots of time on her hands, because she only has 7 children, ranging from 6 mos-13 yrs old...yes, that must be the explanation  :)


One event that Elisabeth was greatly looking forward to, and even "trained" for:



The Jump Rope Contest.



And her training paid off!  E won the competition (by ONE jump), having completed 89 jumps in one minute:



There was also a Three-Legged Race:



An Egg Toss:

(The eggs for G's age were hard-boiled (shhh!)...but the rest were not)

There was also a great scavenger hunt, a pie-eating contest (that we passed on), and a relay race that even A participated in (with funny "legs" to the race).  


I could kick myself for not capturing pictures of the 100-meter dash.   G won in his age division...it was so precious to watch!



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We also were able to visit the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge Center recently.  This was our first visit, and it was really neat.  


First, they had a class set up for us, about different reptiles.  

And then we got to visit the pioneer cabin on the Chesser Island Homestead.
















We also took a walk out on the "boardwalk" to a tower to get a great view of the swamp.  Now I can't remember for sure, but the boardwalk was either a mile roundtrip...or two.  (Probably one.)






I didn't used to be scared of heights, but this was a little scary to me!

We all made it to the top...and were rewarded with quite a view!












And of course, all along the way, as we walked and even as we drove, we spied wildlife everywhere.  


Even ALLIGATORS!  

G was beside himself!







A snake just beside the boardwalk...not far enough away for my liking



We had a great time, with great friends....




....out learning about God's great creation!




4.24.2016

Helpful G

Gabriel has become such a helper the past few months.  He loves doing jobs, and frequently asks me, "Is there something I can help with, mama?"

It is so nice when children are still young and think all of this is fun.

(My big kiddos are great helpers, don't get me wrong.  They don't complain (most of the time) when they have jobs or need to help...but they are just lacking the zeal that G has right now.)

Gabriel thinks the food processor is his domain.  



Carrots are the usual suspect when we pull out the food processor (anytime we make a soup, we use 5 pounds of carrots in it).



Loving every minute of it:



Look at that smile:




He also loves to put clothes in the washer...and move clothes to the dryer (although he needs help with this, much to his chagrin).

And he loves taking (small) trash bags out to the big trash cans in the driveway.  (His obsession interest in trash cans is still firmly in place.)


Back to the kitchen...


Providing three meals every day (plus snacks) for this small army is a full time job, so there are always plenty of ways that G can help in the kitchen.


Getting pineapple chunks onto the dehydrator trays

Although, depending on the particular project, more of Gabriel's "work" may go in his mouth than I might like.








As absolutely delicious as fresh pineapple is (YUM!), dried pineapple may be better.  We call it God Candy!


And sometimes, our little kitchen-helper may not be properly attired.


Just out of the bath, you can see that G is all shiny from being lotioned up,
which means he smells all yummy and chocolatey!





But with my need to "take all the help I can get"...





...I am NOT picky about clothing.




4.22.2016

Our Business Trip to Orlando - 2016

We just got back from a business trip to Orlando.  Daddy's business was to attend breakout sessions on banking...our business was to swim and have fun.  Everyone did their respective jobs well!







Thankfully Jas doesn't have to travel very often...but THANKFULLY, when he does have to travel, we usually can tag along!



The children were sooooo excited about this trip...talking about it for weeks.  Gabriel caught wind of the trip a few days before hand...and couldn't stop talking about our trip to "Atlando."  (Combining Atlanta (from our last business trip) with Orlando...so cute!)

Even Sissy was excited.  Here she is loading up, a few minutes before the Silver Bullet pulled out:






We stayed at the Orlando World Center Marriott.  This was our view from our 12th floor balcony:



Noah - who swears he's going to live in a "big city" when he grows up - loved this!  (He is fascinated by cars and highways, and there are more of both of these in big cities.)

This hotel was absolutely HUGE.  It seriously took walking at least half a mile (inside the building, thankfully) and then taking a pedestrian walk across to the parking garage, to get to our van every time we came and went.

But this hotel had wonderful attractions, like a "Splash Zone" for our two youngest (although all of us enjoyed it):









I unfortunately didn't capture any pictures of the 2, 200-ft slides, and the 90-foot "speed" slide.  (I didn't go on any of these...but Jas got to go with the big kids one evening.)


We also took our usual trip to Downtown Disney (it's free!), now renamed Disney Springs.  Abigail now loves the Lego store as much as her bigger siblings:





This is photographic evidence of how to waste money renting a stroller when there is a miscommunication (lack of communication, actually) and the stroller that is placed by the van to get packed, in fact does NOT get packed for the trip:


(Except I actually consider the money I spent on renting this stroller to be very well spent.  The six children and I would not have been able to stay/enjoy our visit to Disney Springs at all if we hadn't had this!)


How is it possible that I have a new group of little ones to help on carousels...



...while I have four bigger children who only want to watch and take pictures??


We did not take our usual trip to IKEA, but instead tried a new venue: Universal Citywalk.  (It is free, but its parking is NOT, we found out the hard way, and it was a total hassle getting in and out and I don't believe we'll do this again.)  But the children were dying to get to the Universal Studios Store to look for Harry Potter paraphernalia (Jas has been reading the series aloud to the older four and me after the babies' bedtime at night.  We are thoroughly enjoying it!)




After a grueling (to me) 2.75 weeks of doing GAPS Intro, we were back to doing full GAPS right before we left on this trip.  This means that I packed LOTS of food.  We only ate two meals out, and they were both at Sweet Tomatoes (this was our children's first time going there and they loved it as much as Jas and I do, hence our second trip.)

Since the whole reason we are there is for Jas to attend the banking conference, he is busy pretty much the entire time.  We were there for 3 nights/4 days and the only things he was able to do with us is have dinner with us one night, and play in the pool with us for 2 hours another night (before he had another function to get back to).  But we are so blessed and so thankful that we get to tag along on these trips, that our family otherwise couldn't/wouldn't take!







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