Monday, September 29, 2014

Homeschool Co-op

I'm cheating a little. I get the privilege of sending my two older daughters to school 4 days a week, and, I also get to take all three of my littles to homeschool co-op every other Friday. We love it!

In the co-op, moms get the opportunity to teach kids what they enjoy teaching them, which works great! There is a super sweet lady who does preschool with the kiddos. Saige loves it! She asked me the other day for an a-a-apple. There is also science class with chemical vs. physical reaction experiments, art class, Bible class, pledge recitations, and usually a shared lunch. Oh, and I get to teach home ec! So far we've made a berry crisp and this last Friday, I made smoothies.

The smoothie idea is one I borrowed from a friend. I often make the girls berry smoothies with frozen berries, frozen banana, yogurt, milk, vanilla, honey and sometimes coconut. (You can always throw a few chia seeds in the mix for an extra boost of energy.) But, for my co-op class, I made the one that my friend told me about. I threw a few frozen bananas, ice, coconut milk, unsweetened cocoa, peanut butter, honey and vanilla in the blender, and it was delish! (Adding coffee might make it even better!)

Most of the kiddos enjoyed the smoothie. Julia wasn't too keen on it, but she's weird and wasn't feeling well that day. And, you just can't please them all!

Before I made the kids their smoothies, I spoke with them about Daniel and how he decided to only eat vegetable in the King's court. Because my sister recently did a current day Daniel fast, I know that both of these smoothies can be Daniel fast approved. And, I told them that. I'm not really sure it made a huge difference to any of them, but hopefully they understood the connection.

There you go! Feel free to re-purpose your own smoothie time with a little Bible lesson. Instead of chicken soup, it's a little smoothie for the soul.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Papa's Pumpkin Patch

Yesterday, the girls and I went to Papa's Pumpkin Patch in Bismarck. We had a great time. They played and got super filthy and I took way too many pictures! Seriously, this post doesn't even contain half of them. Thanks for stopping by and viewing what I put on the ole' blog!
On the (Short) School Bus
 The 1.5 hour drive to Bismarck usually feels like 3 hours. On a school bus on a warm fall day, it feels more like 4.
Pumpkin Sitting Saige
 You will see in this series of shots, I made many attempts to capture sweet, smiling faces looking my direction. My daughters are not always as amicable as I would like.
Please Look at the Camera!
 We had a yummy picnic lunch in the picture above. Peanut butter and jellies...
Saige Climbing High!

Lydia Climbing High

You did it!

Julia: Climbing Tires

Corn Maze

 Lydia actually picked up an ear of corn and started eating it. Hmmm. She was disappointed when I asked her to stop because, "it was sssooo gooooood!" (Why will kids eat things off the ground and then complain about a well cooked dinner. It's a conundrum I'll never understand.)
Sitting Pretty
 I captured this picture of Julia on a little train ride. I can hardly wait until my other girls look at me and smile when they see the camera. Way to go, Julia!
Fun for Fall!

Pumpkinsy Patch!

School Picture
 My girls go to a very small school.
Another Picture Attempt. Mercy.
Sunflower Julia

Sunflower Lyd
 Good Corn Fun: (Sorry for the cheesy play on words today. They just coming to me.)
Corny Characters

"Eating" Corn
 This stuff was probably way dirtier than what she found on the ground earlier.
Like Big Sister, Like Little Sister
Saige wanted me to get a picture of her "eating" corn.

Would you like to play in a sea of corn? I think it's better than having sand coming in your house through the back door. Although, my girls did NOT come out of that corn pit clean! They were covered in corn and dirt.

Dumping Corn
 Everyone else was doing it...

(Just a few more pictures!)

Baby Zipline

Big Girl Zipline

Corn husk horse, Silly Julia and Sweet Saige
We had such a great time! And, I tell you, we all came back exhausted! The girls got right into a nice hot bath BEFORE dinner. Julia and Lydia still had gymnastics, but Saige went to bed early. (She didn't nap much on the forever long, hot drive home.) Such a great day!

Thanks for coming by the old blog! My girls had homeschool co-op today. So, you will be hearing more about that in the near future if you stay tuned in. I hope you will.

Blessings, Amber

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Going the Distance

I did something I never thought I'd do this evening. I ran 9.16 miles. I am sore and tired, but so thankful I accomplished such a (for me) far distance. I run my 15k in just 2 weeks. And, God willing, I will finish it!

Before I ran, I checked out some good blogs to help me do my best. To see what I read, click here. After getting some positive mental reinforcement, I ate a banana, drank a lot of water and had some chia seeds. It helped me go the distance for sure! (That and prayer for my survival.)

Dave and the girls were a huge help to me on my jog tonight! They brought me water 3 times, and had a "survival pack" of facial tissues, chap-stick and tootsie rolls. The tissues were such a blessing half way through! But, the cheering and encouragement were the best. (I'm so thankful for them.)

And now, I'm ready to sleep! Running is exhausting, and my toes and feet hurt...and so does every other muscle in my body. --Please let me know if you have any good running tips. I'd love to hear them before my big race!

Thanks so much for reading my post this evening. Love yas, Amber

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Homemade Applesauce

Take 3 pounds of apples, peel and core them. Put them in the crock pot with 1/2 a cup of water. Cook for 6 hours, and you get something that looks like this:
Pulse in the blender until applesauce-y consistency.
Yummy Applesauce!
Then put the applesauce in a jar or container.
Re-purposed Applesauce Jar

This makes for the best applesauce ever! It actually tastes like apple cider. It's so delicious, and so unprocessed. Let me know if you try it out!

Blessings, Amber

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pumpkin Day and Chia Seeds

I made pumpkin muffins yesterday! They were delicious with dinner and a delicious breakfast this morning. If you'd like the recipe, you can get it by going to an earlier post of mine here.

Do you ever have days where your energy stream seems to keep up with at least part of your to-do list? Those days are awesome (and exhausting)! and I had one of those days yesterday. Yesterday I did a list of home chores, decorated my home for fall, hung some pictures, finished my homemade applesauce, ran errands, cleaned, cleaned, cleaned and made pumpkin muffins!! (And now, my house is almost as messy as it was before I started cleaning yesterday. Ha.)

Yummy Batter! (Can't resist it.)

They're Delicious!!
(Here's the weird, re-purposing tip for the day.) And what do I attribute all this energy to yesterday? Chia seeds! (Thanks Aubrey for getting me started on this!) I started drinking them in the morning! I get up, put a half a teaspoon of them in some water and drink it down. And it really has given me energy! Coffee certainly doesn't keep me feeling like the energizer bunny. I love the taste, but....

(See the blue muffin tin? Those are mine. They have chia seeds in them. If I would have thought of it sooner, I would have thrown seeds in the whole batch. Good and good for you! Shhhh. Don't tell my kids.)

Today, I was productive in other ways. I finished putting out some fall decorations, jogged for 30 minutes, took care of kiddos....this list doesn't sound as impressive, but at least I did it all with a boost of energy from drinking my morning seeds! Who'da thunk?

Thanks for coming by today! I hope you have had a pumpkiny day! -Amber

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Happy Belated Blog Birthday

Hello all! Dave had a monumental birthday 3 days ago. He turned 35! And, his request for his birthday was to relax. I guess I got a little too used to relaxing myself because I haven't been on here in a few days. 

Anywho, I wanted to share some pictures and videos from our relaxed day with all.
"Graveyard Cake"
 I'm so mean.
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate/Peanut Butter Glaze
The cake was super delicious! Lydia thought it was a batch of brownies. But, it actually wasn't. 

Here we are singing Happy Birthday. Julia was manning the camera. I wish we would have gotten some footage of my littles singing to Dave. Oh well.

And, here is one more video of Saige being a stinker. I asked her to sing and dance again to the song we were all singing together at dinner. She gave me this instead.

Thank you for coming by my blog today!

Love, Amber

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dorm Lighting

Julia and Lydia read every night before they go to sleep. The only tricky thing about that has to do with the fact that Lydia and Julia share bunk beds. Lyd is on the bottom bunk and J is on the top one. When Lyd is trying to read at night, her bunk is really dark and it's so hard to see that she usually asks to sit in Julia's bunk with her. Of course this causes commotion and undue stress amongst my girls. So, dorm lighting was my solution.

Dormly Lit

I Added Flowers
 I added flowers to make my girls love me more. It totally worked.

My girls loved the additional lighting to their rooms. And I'm so glad they can read separately, and hopefully with a lot less squabbling. Let me know what you think!

Thanks for checking in! -Amber

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Word for Neighborly Conduct

I have moved so many times, I've lost count. When I was about to enter college, I counted that I'd moved 20 times. Since Dave and I have been married, we've also moved several times. When we lived in Bartlesville, we moved 4 times. Out of the 4.75 years we lived in Houston, Dave and I moved 4 times. Since we've been married we've lived in 3 different states. Before I got married, I lived in 7 different states. And, with Dave's job being the way it is, there is a possibility that we may move again in the next 5-8 years. And, can I tell you something? Moving is still really, really hard. It's hard even if you like were you are moving to, and it's almost excruciatingly painful if you are moving away from family or loved ones. Moving makes you miss weird stuff, like grocery stores and particular ice cream shops. And it really, really makes you miss family, friends and the close relationships you've had with them. And it can make you very timid or shy. I'm not make this stuff up. (Don't believe me? Ask the dishes.)

It's funny when I meet a new person, and they find out I am new to the area, they always ask where I am from. This is a weird question for someone who moved their whole lives. My answer usually goes something like this: "Ummm...Houston, kinda; Dave and I met in Bartlesville. I lived there the longest. I also lived in Anchorage. But I lived in Kansas twice too. Topeka-ish? No, really Oklahoma. I think." (Their response: "Wha? Where's Battlersville? Are your parents in the Army?)

Every time I've moved, whether it was across the country, or across a large city, there was a new culture to learn. Every moving experience has always been exciting and frightening. Getting to know new people is always the hardest. It's uncomfortable to start up a relationship with someone when you can't really tell them you don't like the town they call home. Or that you think they seem nice, but that you really just miss living by your mom and dad, and it kinda hurts to talk about it.

Moving also forces you to ask yourself basic questions like: Where do people get their groceries? What are the elementary schools like? How far is that from our church? How will we connect with a new church body? Will my talents and God-given gifts be accepted at our new church, or will there already be a ministry fulfilling that role? If there is, will they allow me to use my gifts too? What kind of house will we live in? How will people view our family? Will people visit us if we live here? Are the neighbors welcoming, or are they the type of people who keep to themselves? ---People, questions like these and moving can make a person really, really LONELY.--- 

You wanna know something I realized today? As I was texting with a friend who just moved from North Dakota to Mississippi, I realized that there aren't really many ministries out there for people who move frequently. Sometimes you get lucky, and you move to a great place, like North Dakota, and the people are really welcoming. But for the most part, this doesn't happen. Usually people continue on with their previously established relationships and allow new people to sit on the sidelines. And for a new person, the separation (that comes from people not including you) feels tangible. The wonderful people who have ministered to me the most in times of relocation are the people who have invited me and my family into their homes while understanding some shyness on my part. As well as some of our neighbors who brought us goodies. (Advice Alert: Even though including a new person into your conversations, neighborhood or home can be a bit awkward, it's important that you and I do just that anyway.)

(And, unless you are moving due to a vocation in ministry, there aren't a lot of ministries that people who move a lot can take part in either. It takes so long to allow people to see your heart and allow you to start doing ministry with them. (We had just been blessed with the opportunity to teach in a Sunday School class for the last 6 months that we lived in Houston.) Maybe God will lead me to write a Bible Study for people who take a similar path to the "40-year roaming Israelites" and apply it their own crazy lives.)

I wrote this post today in reflection of some emotions from going through a move recently myself, and hurting for a friend who is going through one too. And, I wanted to encourage those of you who might read my blog:

Go invite someone you don't know well to lunch! Take your new neighbors a cookie...or a salad. Try to think what it would be like to be them. If you know someone who moved away, text them. Call them. Write them a letter. Check in on them. Let others know you are praying for them. Because they are probably hurting. (Especially if they are a mom.) Be a blessing to someone today. 

Lord knows I pray that I can be one too. -Amber

Monday, September 8, 2014

Garden Update

So, I haven't had the opportunity to write about my garden lately. It's still doing well! I actually made some really yummy salsa this weekend from ingredients I got from my garden and bountiful baskets. I got to share the goodness with my neighbors.  (My sharing made Dave a little sad. And we are already almost out of salsa.) Fresh tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro, onion, garlic, a bit of sugar, salt, pepper, a bit of cumin and chili powder: YUM! (Don't worry about Dave, I will make him some more.)

Nonetheless, the thing in my garden that has me a tad stumped would be my brussel sprouts. Have you ever seen those things grow? It's actually pretty neat. I don't know, though, if I'm supposed to cut the whole plant off at the roots, or just pick one brussel sprout at a time. (I have 8 total brussel plants.) I know I've seen them in the grocery store, sold all attached to each other. But I don't know if that's the correct way to harvest them. (I have to figure this out soon because we may have our first freeze this week. High of 81 degrees F today. High of 51 degrees F tomorrow.)
The Brussel's Underbelly

The Top
 Please don't mind the weeds in the background of the above picture. They love my garden. Also, something has been eating the leaves of my brussel plants, but thankfully not the veggie. I don't think the actual leaves matter that much.
Lookin' Good
 These little morsels are gonna taste delish sauteed with some olive oil, bacon and apples. Deliciously fall goodness.....
Looking Down From the Top
 And just because,
Saigie Swinging Amongst Our Yard of Weeds

Dave just finished half of our sprinkler system this weekend, and it is now too late in the season to seed our grass. So it looks like next spring will be our first opportunity. Saige and my other two girls don't seem to mind a bit. :)

Happy (soon to be) Fall Y'all! -Amber

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Weather Forecast Says...

I have been holding myself off in putting out fall decorations. Even though the other morning the air was so crisp and cool that it felt like fall to me already. Just the feel of that gloriously cool morning, and my heart leaped right into my throat. (I am just so excited for Fall, y'all!) I've tried, really tried, to heed the warning of the people up North when they tell me fall and winter are great but that cold gets OLD really fast. And I believe them, but I can't put away my excitement for pumpkin scented and flavored everything, falling leaves, hues of brown and gold, and deliciously hot soups and ciders. (Because we lived in Houston for 5 years, it sorta feels like I've been waiting for this to happen at least that long!)

On the other hand, I am also thankful for days like today, when the sun is shining, and the temperature is a beautiful 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Because today was so nice and beautifully warm, I was reminded of these pictures I took from our home just this week:

Truly Beautiful!

Taken from Our Deck

More of the Same: Pretty and Pink

A Shot From the Front
After looking at these pics, though,  I decided to see what the weather would be like the next few days. And the next few days are supposed to be the same nice and warm as well...until next Wednesday. And, I am not even kidding, there is a chance of SNOW in the forecast!! Maybe I'll stop holding myself back on the fall decorations this week. (Yay!!)

Love, Amber