Thursday, August 16, 2018

The First Weekend of August


"Staying in is the new going out" is pretty much my Friday night motto for summer. I'm typically exhausted by Friday closing time, so it's an easy dinner, movie with a relax on the couch, and bedtimes. On this particular Friday night I made sure to go to bed at a decent hour because I had a super fun day planned with the minis. Cut to Saturday morning when they begged to stay home for the day.

I wasn't thrilled about it since I had purposefully woken up early to take Hubs to work and start our day adventuring. But I caved. We stayed home, they played, and I got book work done, articles written, papers signed, lesson planning for daycare, groceries ordered. You get the picture. While I'm happy the minis love our 'hood and asked to spend the day playing with their neighborhood friends, I made sure we got out and about on Sunday.

Friday night movie was my selection. I chose Three Men and a Baby. The minis LOVED it! Elizabeth was actually quite perturbed at the men and continued talking to the screen throughout the movie: "Oh my goodness! It's not that hard. Milk, like from moms or formula and a little applesauce if they're old enough. Geesh!" "Ugh! Pat her back already! Put her up on your shoulder and pat her back! She probably needs to poop!" She's got this down.

I had my coffee, grocery ordering, and my favorite episodes of New Girl. I had a window open to the backyard so I could hear the kids playing and a view through the dining room window. It was pretty great.



I did have some questions when I went outside after hearing a questionable conversation through the open window. I was convinced these two had trapped some kind of animal in the pool and were using the paddles to move it around. Luckily they didn't! They also had no idea that it was raining on them as they played.



Since the minis insisted on staying home, I insisted on getting take out from our favorite local Chinese spot for lunch. 


Sitting on the couch and cuddling. I can't say anything about it to them (such as, "oh how cute!") or they'll instantly get mad at me and stop with the cuddles.


Sunday we had a family lunch at my aunt's house, followed by a special open house to Jester Park's new Nature Lodge. Sunday was truly our Sunday Family Fun Day!

The minis have become expert corn shuckers this summer.


We haven't been out to Jester Park at all this year. I have been keeping tabs on all of the changes, but it was interesting to see for ourselves. This well marked sign will get you where you're looking to go once you get to the outside of the park. If you haven't been to Jester in a while, you'll definitely need the sign because it looks completely different!


This nature lodge is amazing! So many learning opportunities for kids, as well as plenty of recreational outdoor activities right at your fingertips. The Lodge reminded me a bit of Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge. There's already quite a few activities and events planned for fall at the Lodge that look really fun. The outdoor patio area is great for events.





My three (ages 6 - 10) really enjoyed the magnetic wall.



I was bummed to see that archery is for 12+ year olds. My kids love archery, but there's very few places that allow children to shoot too. We'll continue to go to Archery Field and Sports for that, but we'll definitely be trying out snowshoes this winter.


I feel some of these trail shirts calling our names. There were kids sizes available too!


It was a nice walk from the Lodge to the pond area, where there were free canoe rides (you had to paddle, which made Elizabeth nervous and she refused to go on the boat) and a pond study. Elizabeth and I chose to walk around the pond while the boys paddled around the pond.






The best family selfie we've ever managed!







The ONLY thing I didn't like about Jester Park's Nature Lodge is it's not well connected hiking trail wise to the rest of the park. I hope to see easy to take pathways to the bison and nature playscape. Yes, it could be fairly easy to walk alongside of the road, but not the safest route with kids. Regardless, we easily hoped in our car and drove to the playscape area so the kids could take a dip in the water (we were soooo hot on this 90+ degree day) and hike our favorite trail.




Dipping my feet in the water.


I can't wait to try out the new mini golf course here!

As we left the park sweating and sticky from being outdoors for several hours, I quickly looked up availability for the cabins at Jester Park. I can easily see us spending an enter weekend (or more) here enjoying the outdoor activities. Unfortunately, those cabins seem to be booked two years out! So it may be tent camping for us if we want to do something like that. I'm so excited to have so many great activities so close to home!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

6 Easy Go-To Breakfasts For The School Year



Put away the cereal. I know it's tempting for a quick breakfast before school, especially when everyone has woken up late on a Monday morning. I've discovered cereal does nothing to keep kid's tummies full and their brain working throughout the school morning. In our house, cereal is for special occasions and weekends (if we have it in the house at all). Instead, we opt for breakfasts that pack protein and can get in a good mix (if not all) of the food groups before the school day even starts.

As a new school year looms, I'm putting away the cereal and breaking out my tried and true go-to breakfasts for my kids (and daycare kiddies). Here are six of my favorite breakfasts for those busy weekday mornings:


1.) Egg muffins. I've been making these for years for my kids. I love that they're so easy, plus you can add anything you'd like. Cheese, hashbrowns, veggies, etc. I can make 24 muffins in under an hour (prep plus cooking time) Sunday evening and have enough for one or two breakfasts throughout the week for five of us plus daycare kids.

2.) Muffins. Make these as healthy or unhealthy as you like. Our favorite are these chocolate chip muffins with added protein powder, but I also love a good berry muffin. I often pair these with yogurt in the morning for my kids. This combo tends to keep them full until lunchtime easily.

3.) Banana "cookies." The base of this cookie is bananas (literally) and oats mashed together. You can pretty much add anything you'd like to these cookies. Our go-to is bananas, oats, raspberries (washed, dried, and mashed into the banana and oats), a tbsp of protein powder (I've used chocolate and vanilla flavors and both are great), and Enjoy Life chocolate chips.

4.) Oatmeal. Packets of oatmeal are easily opened and heated, but of course those can contain a lot of sugar. I do always keep some on hand for the ease of things. However, I've also discovered some great overnight oatmeal recipes that are full of flavor and less on the sugary side of things.

5.) Make ahead pancakes. These are easy to whip up, plus you can make a big batch ahead of time for the week or freeze to eat at a later time (and warm up in the microwave).

6.) Yogurt bar. This one is all about the toppings. If my kids ate just yogurt for breakfast they're starving within an hour. However, add some cut up bananas, berries, granola, Cheerios, chocolate chips to the mix and they've managed a pretty decent breakfast. Plus, they get to have fun with it. This requires a bit more time (so not a great option for those rushed mornings) as kids like to take forever to whip up their concoctions, but I do love this for school mornings.