Thursday, May 21, 2015

Planning a Summer with the Kids

Memorial Day completely snuck up on me this year.  I still feel like it should be next weekend, and not this coming Monday!  But no matter how much I might protest, Memorial Day will be here in just a few days.  And as the official unofficial start to the summer, I need to get planning!  For the last five years, the Husband and I have spent our summer days in the office while the kids were at daycare.  But my new position as personal chef, family chauffeur, unpaid housekeeper, and children’s event planner means that I need to get prepared for weeks on end with a 5 year old who doesn’t like to be alone (read: needs to be entertained)

Planning-Summer-Break-with-the-Kids
To be fair, I’ll admit that L will still be in preschool for the summer.  I wanted to have some special time with T before the baby gets here, since L will only be in part-time pre-k in the fall.  In other words: It’s all about having special one-on-one time with my big girl.

But she’s used to structure in her daily routine; which means that she gets bored easily.  I’m a bit more freewheeling.  Somehow we’ll need to balance out those special times with the reality of needing to keep the family fed, house cleaned, renovations completed, and all the other duties around here.



Summer Bucket List

I’ve never done a summer bucket list before.  It seems like an easy place to start.  Using free printables from Yellow Bliss Road, T and I brainstormed the other night and this is what she came up with:

Summer-Bucket-List
Here’s a translation, including a few of my own additions:
  - Make applesauce
  - Movie Day
  - Go to the pool
  - Beach Day
  - Make ice cream
  - Make a book
  - Make a music video
  - Paint rocks
  - Fairy Garden
  - Visit the local library for an event
  - Backyard Camping
  - Picnic at the beach
  - Take a long walk/bike ride.
  - Learn more about our area with day trips to parks & landmarks

The best part is that there is plenty of room for extra activities, which will be written in as we think of them.



Day of the Week Activities


Theme for each weekday
I found this post on Pinterest the other day (originally from Mother’s Niche).  I love the idea of having a general theme for each day of the week.  It allows for a certain amount of freedom within a loosely structured framework.


At-Home Summer Camp

I love the idea of creating themes around each week.  T has been asking a lot to get more involved in cooking around here, so I think that a cooking skills camp may just happen.  It’s also a great way to further organize long bucket lists or to organize activities into the day-of-the-week schedule above.

Want some ideas for themes?  Try these out:
  - Beach Week
  - Outdoor Explorers
  - Outer Space
  - Dinosaurs
  - Little Artists
  - Christmas in July
  - Helping others
  - Music & Theater (put on your own play!)
  - Sports
  - Board & Lawn Games



Scheduled Quiet/Free Time

No doubt, I’m going to need some time each day to do what I need to do.  I expect that this will be time that T will be required to do her summer assignments, play on her iPod, or just play around in the back yard.  We’ll have to figure out what time of day works best for us, but it’s going to be required.


Play Dates with School Friends

Kids-at-the-Beach
I have to admit to being one of those bad parents that doesn’t schedule many play dates.  It doesn’t come naturally to me.  When I was a kid, I just walked down the street and asked any of the neighborhood kids if they wanted to play for a while.  Parents didn’t get involved.  There were no structured activities or schedules.  It just happened.  But that’s not the culture anymore.  And since she’s at private school, most of her friends don’t live within easy walking distance.  I’ll be asking T which friends she wants to see this summer,and we’re going to make a point to schedule several play dates.

What do you have planned to keep the kids busy this summer?Do you like to keep your kid’s activities structured or unstructured?

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I am…

I’ve realized that warm weather and working outside agrees with me.  For 12 years I worked in a space with no natural light at all.  This year, I can already see color on my arms and tan lines from working on so many projects outside (so, so many projects...and all will be shared in due time!)

Today I’m linking up with not one, but TWO fabulous parties!  You all know here that I love participating in Old School Blogging with Elaine and this months’ co-host Jumping with My Fingers Crossed.  This time we were instructed to complete the following sentences, is a fill-in-the-blank style.  So much fun. 

I am happy that my husband is back from his latest business trip.
I wonder how it will be when he travels & I’m handling three little ones.
I hear bees buzzing around our flowers and birds chirping.
I see the girls playing nicely together (yay!), lavender plants starting to bloom and enough basil for my first batch of pesto this summer.
I want to soak in the quiet warmth of a spring afternoon.


Potted-Herb-and-Flower-Garden
I am wearing my new summer sandals (a Mother’s Day gift to myself)
I pretend that they’re not Crocs
I feel a little guilty for spending the money…pretty much anytime I splurge.


Crocs-Huarache-Cerulean2
(a little baby bump action going on there, and still rocking the toddler pedicure from Mother’s Day!)


I touch the petunias and marigolds in bloom on our deck; picking off all of the wilted flowers to keep the plants healthy and beautiful.
I worry about Summer break.  Will I be able to keep up with a 5-year old in the heat and still do the things that need to get done?
I cry only over the stupid things in life.  Why can’t I cry over the important ones?
I am looking forward to some quiet time with my husband.
I understand that he feels burdened now that he’s our family’s sole bread-winner.
I say that we can handle the responsibility
I dream of sandy beaches, a wide umbrella, a picnic lunch and kids playing in the water together.


BHI_Beach1

BHI_Beach2
I try to get everything done on my to-do list each day.  Most days I fail.
I hope that I can learn to slow down and enjoy more special moments with my kids.
I am excited, anxious, hopeful and cautious; yet quite content.


OSBimage125

It’s also time again for another #MommyReality challenge with Jenerally Informed, Leapfrog and Lipgloss and this week’s co-host Julie’s Lifestyle.  The challenge:  Buried Alive.  The girls don’t have any idea that I purged several of their stuffed animals a few weeks ago.  Would you?

Kids-Covered-in-Stuffed-Animals

In all honesty, those are just the stuffed animals that are left in the nursery and the girls’ room.  There are more in the playroom and living room.  Yes, this is one of those homes that has been taken over by toys.  It’s blessing and a curse.  At least the kids had a fun time taking these pictures!


Mommy-Reality-Challenge


How do you handle stuffed animal mania?
Finish the sentence “I am…” in the comments section!


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Thursday, May 14, 2015

{Recipes} Cap’n Crunch French Toast

Thanks everyone for the sweet responses to our announcement on Tuesday.  The next few months are guaranteed to be extra busy, as I’ve been working on re-doing our backyard entertaining areas for the last couple months in preparation for summer parties, our office is undergoing a massive remodel in June and now I’m starting plans for re-doing the nursery by August.  But I’m happiest when I’m busy, so it’s all good.

This past Sunday morning was the perfect example.  Most women expect the rest of the family to cook breakfast for them on Mother’s Day, right?  Not me!  It’s rare that we get to have a nice relaxing Sunday morning as a family.  Usually we just have a quick breakfast and then rush off to church.  Instead, we went to church on Saturday evening, and I took the time to make an extra-special brunch for our family.

Capn-Crunch-French-Toast-Recipe2
I first heard about Cap’n Crunch French Toast when researching places to eat at in Ocean City.  Barn 34 was highly recommended in Yelp, but most of the reviews raved about their brunch special:  Captain Crunch French Toast.  We didn’t end up getting the chance to go there, but the thought of that french toast stuck with me.  Thankfully, it’s not exclusive to Barn 34 and I found a knock-off recipe on Food.com.  I had to make a few adjustments, including thin slices (easier for the kids to eat), reducing the amount of cereal used, cutting the sugar a bit and adding cloves (just because I love cloves).

Capn-Crunch-French-Toast-Recipe3
The results were pretty awesome.  The kids both gave me stuffed-mouth smiles declaring “more, please!” and the husband declared it “delicious…though it looks a bit like fried chicken”.  It wasn’t my favorite french toast (that would be stuffed baked french toast with an almond streusel topping…must post!), but it was worth trying!

Capn-Crunch-French-Toast-Recipe

Cap’n Crunch French Toast

(adapted from Food.com)

Ingredients
6 large eggs
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch ground cloves
1⁄2 cup butter (as needed)
2/3 (14 ounce) box Cap'n Crunch cereal
1 loaf Rustic Italian or French Bread

Directions:
1. Place cereal into gallon-sized zip top bags.  Using a rolling pin, crush cereal into a coarse meal.  Pour into a large, flat dish and set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, cream vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  Whisk together until well combined and thick. 

3.  Heat a large skillet (cast iron preferred) on medium-low heat and melt butter, starting with 1 – 2 tablespoons.  (Due to variations in stovetops and skillets, you may need to adjust temperature higher or lower)

4.  Soak bread slices in custard mixture for 10 – 15 seconds on each side.  Dredge soaked slices in Cap’n Crunch mixture, pressing the crumbs onto the bread to ensure a good coating.

5. Cook in heated pan, 3-4 minutes per side.  Serve immediately for best results, or keep warm in oven on low.


Do you cook for yourself on holidays?
What was the best french toast you ever had?

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See more breakfast recipes:

Breakfast Recipe Beer-Based Syrup

Healthy Breakfast Recipe Protein Pancakes Weight Loss

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

{Pregnancy Update} It’s A…

Happy Tuesday everyone!  I hope that all had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend.  Our festivities started on Friday with a Mother’s Day ‘tea’ at T’s school.  The kids all sang songs for us and shared juice and fruit salads over handmade placemats, clay handprints and handmade butterfly buttons.  It was as kitschy and adorable as it sounds.  Saturday night we took the Husband’s parents out for a big dinner.

Toddler Pedicure
Sunday we slept in and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and the girls decided to give me an impromptu pedicure.  T painted a pink base coat and then L put quite a layer of glitter polish over the pink…and several of my toes.  But I must admit that once the extra glitter was cleaned off, these toes don’t look too bad!
We took the kids to the park to run off some steam and then came home and let them watch a movie while the Husband made dinner. Clearly the excitement of the weekend got to L since she fell asleep right in the middle of the movie.

Gender Reveal
But Mother’s Day e didn’t end there for us.  After waiting weeks longer than expected, we finally had baby 3’s anatomy ultrasound yesterday.  The Husband and I waited anxiously throughout the ultrasound as we saw the baby’s heartbeat, nose, arms and legs. The little one was wiggling around a little bit and got a good case of the hiccups, too.  But then at the very end, the technician told us the news…

Baby-Gender-Reveal-Shoes-9
…so there you have our big news.  We’re thrilled to get the chance to add a little boy to our family; especially since I’ve been warned by OBs not to have more than three pregnancies.  So this was basically our last chance.  Plus, it means I get to totally redesign the nursery and shop for little boy clothes now!  We couldn’t wait to tell the girls, but still wanted to make it fun for them, so we surprised them after school with a special treat:

Sibling-Lollipop-Gender-Reveal3
My apologies for the tiny picture above.  It seems that no matter what photo host I use, my tall images keep getting drastically scaled down when they're uploaded (so frustrating).   In any case, T was a little sad that she’s not getting another sister, but she got over it quickly.  L doesn't really understand yet, but is telling us she’s excited about having a baby brother.

How was your mother’s day?

Any advice for raising boys vs. girls?

 
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