Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Congratulations Sam S. winner of the RoadID giveaway!

(mostly) Wordless Wednesday: How They Grow

Manasseh - January 2012
Manasseh - September 2012
Cassius - January 2012
Cassius - September 2012
Azariah - January 2012
Azariah - September 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Safe Workout Giveaway

The RoadID giveaway ends tomorrow!  Don't forget to enter so you can have the chance at winning a $35 gift code to keep yourself safe while you're working out!

Up & At'em: No Cereal Breakfast

Baked Oatmeal Muffins

We are getting creative as a family as we look for solutions to meals on the go and no-cereal breakfasts!  Last weekend we experimented with baked oatmeal together.  As a family we worked together to create 4 varieties of baked oatmeal muffins.  Below are recipes for our baked oatmeal.  Please understand that if you are the type of person that needs specific measurements for cooking, this recipe will not appeal to you.  I do not bake with measuring cups, rather with what looks and tastes just right.

The boys loved helping to pour, mix, smell, taste, and sample our baked oatmeal muffins as we tested out a variety.  We made approximately 2.5 dozen muffins in a very short amount of time and with very little material.  Just start thinking about what you like in your oatmeal - mix and bake.  We baked at 380 for about 20 minutes - or until the muffins were dry and stuck together.  Recipes for our muffins are below Azariah.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Chips
Canned Pumpkin
Pumpkin Pie Spice

Apple Pie
Finely diced Apple
Brown Sugar
Ground Flax Seed

Banana Dream
Pureed Banana
Unsweetened Dried Coconut
Chocolate Chips
Walnut Chunks

Pumpkin Pie
Pureed Banana
Pumpkin Pie Spice

Monday, September 24, 2012

Muffin Cup Lunch!

Do you have a favorite simple pre-school friendly lunch?  Our "big" boys are 4 and almost 3.  They love fruits and veggies - and Asian Toasted Sesame dressing.  This lunch was a hit - especially when they got to use cheese spreaders to put peanut butter (and soynut butter) on their celery!

Family Date Night

We live a fast paced life.  We love to be on the go, always looking for an adventure.  We enjoy loving life.

Sometimes, however - we have to slow down.  Once in a while we have to make it a priority to just enjoy each other's presence at home, as we are.  Saturday night, we took time for a family date night.  Nothing extravagant, just relaxing and playing together.

What do you do to enjoy time as a family?  Here is our date night:

Does it look delicious?  Do you wonder what we're making?  Check back tomorrow to find out about our no cereal breakfast recipe this week.

We baked together - the boys loved making this special breakfast treat.  They were truly part of the creating!  Randy and I enjoy cooking and creating foods together, the boys are always so glad to jump right in when they get the chance!

We played the Noodleboro Manners game.  The boys really enjoyed this.  It was incredibly simple, but forced taking turns, sharing, and using manners.  We have already thought about some amendments we'll make to our game next time.  It took a little longer than the boys were ready for.  

Do you see the bit of white in front of Cassius?  We also shared popcorn - it was a special night!

The highlight of the evening may have been hot chocolate with BIG marshmellows.  Manasseh and I went to the store for our baking supplies and he saw these, he NEEDED to have them.  Daddy fills the mugs much higher than mommy... that's okay though!

We followed the picnic game with Go Fish.  This version of the game is incredibly cute and can be played in a number of ways depending on children's skill level and understanding of numbers and colors.  We went with very simple for our game night.  

Soon we realized that somehow it was 9pm - WAY past bed time.  We brushed teeth, said prayers, and helped the boys get to bed.

What a GREAT fun family date.  You know how much it cost us?  Practically nothing.  We already had everything we needed at home (minus a few baking supplies that I was going to buy anyhow).

We're looking for a great family activity for this week - what is your family's favorite?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cheap Date Night #CouchCritics

We need a (cheap) date night! 

Do you ever feel like you really need time with your spouse - but with jobs and kids and activities, it is just so hard to find?  Randy and I have taken to a lot of after bed time dates - things like sitting on the front porch and drinking coffee, or an occasional board game.  Truthfully though, one of our favorite activities is renting a movie from the Redbox and snacking on cheese sticks, or popcorn, or jalapeno poppers (not foods on my diet plan).  

Last night we decided to have a family date night.  As we were putting the boys to bed I discovered that we had an opportunity to have a movie and snacks, sponsored by Collective Bias.  We were chosen to rent Tropic Thunder, a 4 year old movie directed by Ben Stiller.  

Our first task:
Get the boys to bed! 

As soon as we had the first 2 boys asleep, Randy took over on Cassius.  He's our wild card when it comes to sleeping.  I checked Redbox online to reserve the video.  Then I quickly threw my shoes on and headed to Walmart for videos and a snack!

I don't know about you, but I can NEVER seem to make Walmart a "quick" trip.  It took me 45 minutes to decide on exactly what I was going to buy.  Seriously... I had to look at a variety of foods, some baby clothes, nighties, and so much more.  This is what I finally ended up with.  Check out my shopping experience on Google +.

Okay, so it wasn't ALL for date night - we did not use the bag/tissue paper or card for our date.  Total date night package (including the extras for the birthday party) was less than $20!  That is my kind of date.  Cheap, simple, and at home with my love.

We snuggled up with our poppers and Tropic Thunder.  It was not my favorite movie (read more about the movie and my thoughts on the movie in my Couch Critics review).  I did love having time with Randy though.  

Make sure to check out Redbox for your next date night movie or video game!  They are even offering games to download for the whole family!

Redbox is on Facebook and Twitter as well!

  • I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. #CBias #SocialFabric

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fears and Monsters: Elementary and Preschool

This week for our fun with elementary friends day, we chose the theme Monsters (and fears).  Halloween is coming up and we see "scary" things everywhere. In fact, one of my boys recently confided in me that he sleeps at the edge of his bed because he's afraid of monsters.  

This week we had 5 kids (4 preschool through first grade).  We talked about the verse, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7.

Homework is always first.  The Princess had homework to finish - reading.  She read to the boys (she read the book forward and backward).  They loved it.

As we started talking about God's power to help us when we're afraid, the kids used biodegradable packing peanuts to build monsters.  Did you know that if you wet the packing peanut it sticks to another peanut?

The Princess made arms and legs on her monster.  Others came in a variety of interesting shapes.

Next we did a quick experiment with the packing peanuts - we put them in water to see what would happen! This gave us a chance to talk about the difference between "melting" and "disintegrating".  

The kids used wiggly eyes, blank label stickers, and foam frames to make monsters (I forgot some of the essential other pieces at home - they didn't know the difference).  I think they really loved getting to use the glue the most.  These were creative monsters indeed!

Someone was upset that they could not have any more eyes - they had a little difficulty sharing with the others.  More learning opportunities at each activity.

We had some delicious frozen hot chocolate.  How do you make frozen hot chocolate?  Well it's simple.  You take a little milk, a lot of water, some hot chocolate packets and some ice.. throw them in a blender, and push the button until the ice breaks down into slush.  This guy loved it!

We finished by making play doh monsters.  I don't know what happened to those pictures.  The kids had a great time making monsters and talking about God's power over fear.

How do you teach kids about fear?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Learning Tree

It started out as a tree of blessing and thanksgiving.  I painted it on the wall with the intention of writing scriptures of thanks and encouragement on it.  I have been attaching leaves with names pf blessings to it.  We like the tree.

Now it is a learning tree as well.  Currently it bears apples with numbers 1-10 (we have up to 100).  It holds apples with each letters of the boy's names (although mysteriously A and S have become missing).  It holds the boy's papers from church and Awana.  We are going over these pages regularly, and the numbers.  Mama mixes up the letters in their names and they are learning to spell them in order, left to right.  Manasseh's speed has really improved at spelling his name, both with paper and out loud, over the last couple of weeks.  The learning tree is a GREAT thing in our house right now!

How do you promote education in your house?  Do you have special centers, workbooks, activities that you use?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Get'em Moving: No Cereal Breakfast

By now you know I'm weird.  There's no doubt about that.  Among my weirdness is a desire to teach my children not rely on cereal for breakfast.  Quite honestly it has taken more training for me than for them.  Cereal is easy, and we received WIC for quite a while, which provided WAY too much cereal and made it very easy to slip into the unhealthy trap of serving it every morning.

We have been working on modifying diet at our house, and breakfast has been a big part of that.  In fact, I would say that breakfast tends to be the most tricky part for me.  Why?  I'm diabetic, so I prefer low-carb meals.  Cassius is allergic to eggs and peanut - that knocks out most granola bars, waffles, and pancakes.  So we look for other options.  I've decided to spend a few posts sharing some of our favorite non-cereal breakfasts with you.

Graham Cracker Sandwiches got my boys moving this morning.  Literally.  Manasseh was snuggled up in my lap, he did NOT want anything to do with waking up.  I told him what his brother had gotten for breakfast and he jumped up and began to follow instructions immediately.  So here they are:

Graham Cracker Sandwiches

1 Graham Cracker
Peanut Butter (or other nut butter)
Craisins (or raisins)
Banana slices

Seriously - it's that simple.  The boys at them quickly and felt satisfied when they were done.  They had fruit, protein, and a bread.  They ate them with a side of almond milk.  A complete breakfast!

Apple Activities: for preschool and elementary

I'm super excited - not only do we get to have regular adventures with some of our preschool friends, we are now scheduled for a once a week date with 2-5 of our elementary aged friends.  You better believe I don't plan on letting these kids run wild around the house for 2-3 hours while I'm with them.  I hope to be sharing regular preschool and elementary activities as we experience them with our dear friends!

This week we enjoyed apples (because last week we picked apples)!  One activity I completely forgot about was "Does it float".  We were going to test apples to see if they float and make guesses about why they float.  Please add your ideas for great apple activities at the end of this post so we can try them out next season (or even later this year).
Did you know that if you slice your apple through the side, you find a star made of seeds?  Some of the kids were surprised by that.  They had fun counting the seeds in their own apples when it was their turn to cut apples.

I gave each child an apple and a butter knife - these were very dull butter knives and they had a hard time cutting the apples, with 7 kids working on cutting it was best to have dull knives though.  I monitored closely as they cut and helped as needed.  This was a great activity for patience, cooking skills, social skills, math (counting seeds - it could also be used for fractions), and so many other important skills that young children need to develop.

While hard at work, we noted that the apples turned a little brown.  One of the kindergarten students was able to explain why they turn colors (they have been learning about apples at school this week as well).  He felt confident and wise because he already knew this fact.

While the children sliced apples, I made a simple pie crust with vegetable shortening, flour, water, and salt.  Then divided it into muffin tins so that each child had 1 mini pie.  The kids each smashed their crust down around the edges with their fingers.  That was a great sensory activity and a couple of the kids had a hard time with this.

Next, we added cinnamon and sugar to the apples, each child that wanted a turn, helped to stir it.  Then each child filled his/her own pie crust with as many apple pieces as they wanted.  I threw them in the oven and started on the next activity while we waited for our sweet treat.

Next we made apple prints.  We used 3 halves of apples to paint on cardstock.  My intention was to have nice, apple shaped prints - they didn't work out like I planned.  Instead we had some neat, colorful artwork. The kids practiced sharing, patience, color mixing, spacial relationships, and more.  Do you see the coloring sheet on this picture too?  It is a potato head paper - my intention was to cut out the apple prints and make apple-heads... that didn't work, so they just colored the pages.

This apple got a lot of pretty colors on it.  One of the boys noticed that when the colors mixed just right, we ended up with brown instead of green, yellow, and red.  Good observation!

When our mini-pies were cooked (the apples were soft in the middle), I cut the muffin tins apart so each child could have their mini-pie to themself.

Mini Apple Pies were a hit.

The kids had a great time playing with apples. 

What are your favorite fall learning activities?  Do you remember any fun apple experiments or games from your childhood?  How do you entertain a large group after school and keep them learning?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Contest Update

I shared last week on my contest blog that I made a leap forward in my health.  Did you learn about that?  What are you doing for your health this week?  I've got some big plans.  Keep an eye on WLB Jen to find out how I'm doing!

Free Family Fun at Hoosier Outdoor Experience

Do you ever accidently stumble into an activity that you are pretty sure will become part of a long-standing family tradition?  That is exactly what happened to us this weekend.  I highly recommend that if you live anywhere near the Indianapolis area, you consider making the Hoosier Outdoor Experience part of your family plan for next year!

Mr. Crum is completing some volunteer hours for a class that he took this spring.  He received an email last week that there was a need for volunteer bus guides during the event, and he chose to go.  We decided at the last minute that the whole family would head to Indianapolis with him and spent a little bit of time checking out the event on their website.

Let me tell you what, the website did not prepare us for the actual magnitude of the event.  There were over 50 activities for families to participate in together.  This is designed to give people just a small taste of what adventures lie ahead of them when they spend time outdoors.  I'm talking everything from biking, to hunting, to tennis... and so much more!  (Did I mention that all of the activities are FREE?)

Here is a brief overview of what I did with our 3 little guys (now ages 11 months, 2.5, and 4):
We started our afternoon by learning about how to use a pump and filter to get drinking water in a river or lake.  The boys participated in a contest - I'm pretty sure we did NOT win that.

Next we got to see and touch a variety of animal pelts.  Here are a raccoon and a beaver.

The boys really enjoyed digging for artifacts and bones in this little simulated dig area.

Abe Lincoln paid a visit at the park.  The boys were much less interested in hearing his stories than their mama was, so we moved on pretty quickly.

My big guys each got a turn to try and shoot arrows.  Manasseh really wanted to take one home with us - they were actually fairly reasonably priced, but mama was holding out for some other type of souvenir.

There were several large stuffed animals to get photos with - this is the only one I actually got all 3 boys to stand together in.

The boys used tulle and suite cakes to make little bird feeders.

I wish I could have gotten a picture of Manasseh's little cheer when he got his frisbee into the disc golf basket.

There was a lot of food - if I had planned ahead we would have carried sandwiches in with us. The boys loved the corn and hot dogs that they got to eat while we were at the park.

Manasseh decided to learn a bit about the outdoors while we waited in line for the rock wall.

My sweet 4 year old getting ready to scale the rock wall.  He's been climbing since before he could walk (I'm not joking, not even a little bit) and I knew he'd do well.  He surprised me and got nervous, he didn't make it up very far.  But it sure was fun watching him try something new.

A real tortoise that they got to touch.

AND they touched a snake.  They are fascinated by the ways different animals feel.

One of the stations was building bird feeders.  This was a great activity.  We love building together AND we get a new feeder to put near our new patio!

We caught a fish!

Manasseh begged to take the hook out of the fish's mouth - his mama sure wasn't going to do that.  I was going to let this friendly DNR guy do it.

There were cool tents all over the place.  Manasseh played in this one briefly before we boarded the bus to get back to our van.

Waiting for daddy to be done with his work, the boys enjoyed playing together in the median by the parking lot.

Time for some rest.  We had a fantastic day and can't wait to go back next year WITH daddy.

I think next year we'll plan to take the whole weekend at the park, we might even find some place to camp nearby to have the FULL outdoor experience.