Saturday, August 4, 2018

Go Karts for Jon's 14th

He wanted plain vanilla cake with white fondant so everyone could sign his cake. You'll notice the signed ball cap he's wearing. He likes to get stuff signed, I guess. 

He's getting pretty tall, but he was still the short one of the group of friends he had over. Each one of them was taller than the last. 

And we found a Go Kart track in Boerne where the boys could race. For the first race, they tried to beat each other. Liam was the winner in that instance. But when we got inside and saw the results, we realized that quickest lap time was how they determined the winner. So the second time they raced, they just tried to beat each other's lap time. You don't have to do as much passing in that instance. 

They all want to be first.

Harrison's (friend-Harrison, not brother-Harrison) results were not recorded the second race (faulty transponder or whatever), so we don't actually know if he would have beat Jonathan or not. But Jonathan was last in the first race and first in the last race. 

And being a Friday, and Boerne being far from home, we had lots of time in the van. Boys are so funny. 

Things googled on this trip: "How to Burp," "Clever Ways to Cover Farts in the Classroom." Much burp practice ensued. 

Discussions on this trip: What kind of vehicle they want to own when they grow up, Can they share a vehicle since they both want the same one, What kind of degree to get at college (or should they go to college). 

It's enlightening to have a group of youth in your van while you quietly drive. You learn a lot about them when they think you aren't listening. I feel like when I have a group of girls, they text each other more than talk, so I don't get as inside a look into their thought-lives. Maybe they realize I'm listening.....

Friday, July 27, 2018

Kids Summer Cooking

The three older kids each got to cook two meals for us this summer. 

Melty Monterey Jack Burgers by Jonathan

Elizabeth enlisted her friend to help her make Orange Cauliflower and Fried Rice. It's similar to Orange Chicken, but with cauliflower. Adelynn likes to make vegetarian dishes.  I've had several - her food is restaurant quality! She made a Zucchini Basil soup one time..... mhm, mhm. This was a winner for me. I tried later to make some more with leftover cauliflower, and it just didn't cut it. She's got a gift.

Liz' next meal was trying out her Cafe's Toasted Avocado Chicken and Cheese sandwich. Phillip likes to order this when we visit for lunch. Elizabeth hit it just right! Shredded chicken, Monterey Jack cheese, avocado, & mayo on Wheatberry bread and grilled like a grilled cheese sandwich. Liz did find out from this meal that she can't eat Avocado (ironic, since she loves her cafe and wouldn't have dreamed of trying an Avocado until she worked there). They hurt her stomach pretty badly. 

Jonathan wanted to try out Hello Fresh. He hears it advertised on a podcast he listens to. This was our first time trying out a meal delivery service. We got a good amount of savings using the podcast coupon code; otherwise we wouldn't have tried it. 

I have to say it was kind of pampering to get this box in the mail with everything you need for a meal and clear instructions on how to fix it. It was all very fresh and packaged so cutely (tiny little jars, ya'll!). Jonathan is not an experienced chef, so it took him longer to cook the meals (it was supposed to take half an hour and it took him about 50 minutes). But it was cooked well: he didn't over-cook or under-cook the meat. The flavors were well-mixed and developed, especially if you ate it as they recommended (I think I was the only one who ate the balsamic onions on the hamburger). 

You get to choose your meals from Hello Fresh and Jon chose Melty Monterey Jack Burgers with Red Onion Jam and Crispy Zucchini (top picture), and Parmesan-Crusted Chicken with Creamy Lemon Tomato Linguine. We kept the recipe cards so we could make these again because we enjoyed all of it. I think the linguine was my favorite. 

I'm not getting paid to talk about Hello Fresh or anything, but we did get a good coupon with our meals. It's for a friend, so if anyone wants it, message me and I'll give you the code. It's $69.95 value (which covers the two meals per week option, I believe). They didn't offer meals for a family of 6, but the Family of 4 meals was plenty for us. We even had leftovers. Of course, my kids don't eat a ton.... Also, it's a weekly subscription, so if you don't want to pay for the next set of meals, you'll need to cancel your subscription, like, the day after you order your coupon-ed meals. You'll get the meals you just ordered at the reduced price, but won't get charged again until you un-pause your account. Just heads-up.... 
It's a lot of fun to try it out. It wouldn't at all be worth it for us to join this type of meal service ~ I can make meals a lot cheaper for our family. But it's super fun to try.

And Phoebe found her meals through a Taste of Home cookbook that my mom gave us a while back. She was hungry when she looked through it, so she had all kinds of pages dog-eared. It's a really simple book to cook from. The recipes aren't hard and the pictures are good; there's only one recipe per page. Perfect for beginners. Today she made Bacon and Egg Croissants (the recipe called for Bagels, but we all like croissants better) with peaches on the side.

Last week she made Colorful Pasta Salad and Barbecue Jack Chicken. 

Huhh. I just noticed that all the kids chose one meal that included Monterey Jack Cheese. 
Anyway, on the day of this meal, she was supposed to make lunch. I was stuck for 4 hours getting a vehicle taken care of and she was legitimately freaking out about how to cook these recipes. After some stilted communication (phones dying in the midst of texts and tears of frustration and Dad calling me so she would talk to me....), we finally settled that she could save that meal for supper and I could help her with whatever she needed help with. She had already made the pasta salad on her own though, so that was very good work.

Charlize came over to test Phoebe's cooking skills.

I don't often recommend cookbooks because there are usually only 2 recipes I ever want to use in any one cookbook..... But this one is really great for kids or beginner cooks. (Again, no affiliate links or anything.) I looked on Amazon and noticed there are several in this "series": crockpot meals and such. I often find new recipes through facebook or online, but I think handing a kid a book is helpful in this case. They have a limited, perceptible scope to choose from. 

The summer cook-off was a success! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Ice Cream Outings and the Witte Museum

Elizabeth has been asking to go there. It's near the Witte Museum, which I wanted to visit, so we made an afternoon of it. 

This is very much hipster ice cream. 

You choose your popsicle flavor, what you want it dipped in, the drizzle and the dash (a little dusting of something at the end). I got an Orangesicle, but the flavor was a tart tangerine flavor instead of the mild orange flavor I was expecting. I enjoyed it; I'm just not sure I'd get it again. The kids got varying degrees of chocolate and caramel. Elizabeth got a peach one, I believe. All of them were delicious! 

This is a treat place, so we won't go here very often. But I would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for something different and fun. 

A cicada on the wall to the entrance of the Witte.

The Witte is free on Tuesdays from 3-8. They've added quite a bit to it since we last went ~ a cool dinosaur exhibit ~ we didn't pay to see that, but there were lots of dinosaur-ish things spilling out into the museum thoroughfare. There's also a new "Habitats of Texas"-type room. I loved this one because  I got to see the names of some birds that I've been wondering about. Also, George Strait narrated a part of the exhibit. 

Phoebe's mustache pick

Phoebe and Jon voted on the most epic mustaches in this room full of pictures of..... cattle owners from the area? I actually couldn't figure out who these guys were, but there was a room covered in pictures of men with epic mustaches. 

Jonathan's mustache pick

Jonathan playing the Relax game.

There's an area of the Witte that explores all things Human Body: exercise areas, x-ray room, etc. The kids love this game ~ two people put a band around their head; the most relaxed person moves this ball down toward the competitor. Once the ball reaches the competitor, you've won! Jonathan was really good at it. I tried it with Phoebe and we were both keeping the ball pretty neutral. I finally lifted my head and tried to stress myself out to see what would happen, and it took longer than I thought it would for Phoebe to win that way, so I'm wondering if the game's not a little rigged. Or I'm no good at stressing myself out.

Guess what Liz did at the museum? Yes. She sat there and knitted almost the whole time. 
We're such nerdy homeschoolers. 

And in honor of National Ice Cream day, Emily's at Cibolo was giving out free ice cream yesterday, so we participated in the yumminess. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Adieu to the Raft

 For each of the past six years, building a raft has been a project Elizabeth has accomplished with gusto. Collecting materials (water bottles, milk jugs, large juice bottles, duct tape), taping it all together, improving each year, begging for me to take her to water..... deep water, not puddles of water.

I think this is the year we say goodbye. She's 16. She's driving now. We've enjoyed the outings immensely, but we're ready to say goodbye to rafts. 

Today we went to Boerne City Park Lake. It makes for a fun summer day outing for those who like a picnic or bbq by the water. The park is super crowded over holidays, I've gathered, but pleasantly dotted with gatherings on regular summer days. 

I didn't get a picture of Liz on the raft, oddly enough. She traveled across an arm of the lake to the other side for her last voyage. She brought back a rock in commemoration. 

Harrison had a market going. The kids were into rocks, so he gathered a bunch together. Then rocks went out of style, so he gathered sticks to "sell."

A couple of Travis kids went with us. 

And when we were leaving, we asked some boys if they wanted a falling-apart raft and they were very down for it. 

Goodbye, raft. 
A season of life has passed.....

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Malaquite Beach 2018

Pelicans flying low.

We made another trip to Malaquite Beach with the Travis family this year. It was a week ago and we are still paying for the lack of application of sunscreen. I should say the mis-application of sunscreen, because we did apply it. Just not often or well enough. Despite our crispy burns, we had an awesome time and will plan for another year. 

Emily and Harrison.

The waves were high and powerful for Gulf Coast waves. They were so loud that if you stared off into the waves, you could imagine you were alone because you couldn't hear all the people behind you. The sky was large. The sand was smooth..... I believe a piece of secluded beach would make an ideal vacation spot for me. I would also like a walking-distance crab-shack that serves homemade clam chowder.

 There were quite a few people at the beach and a bathroom/shower/visitor center area. And a jeep of park rangers (?) or some kind of people who looked liked they'd be helpful in a crisis. It calmed the fears a bit when our older kids went further than I'd probably be able to go to save them from ocean depths. 

Moon Jelly and Man o' War

We found several man o' wars on the beach. Thankfully no one was stung. The visitor center has antidotes for the sting, but I just read one lady's account of being stung and it does not sound fun! Jellyfish on the beach are pretty to look at, regardless.

Sandcastles and digging holes and being buried.

It was too wet and sandy to get many pictures past the first half hour of arrival. Liz' friend Adelyn was able to come with us. Phoebe stayed home because she was still getting over being sick from camp. She actually relished a full day at home with no siblings or peers around. 

I had time last week to write a post about the beach, but I felt so bummed that I hadn't done a better job keeping the kids sunscreened up, that I didn't feel I could say anything about the beach until we had healed. And I'm very thankful we are on the way. I prayed for God's mercy! 

We will make better plans for next year. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Summer Camps

We just finished school a couple days before the middle kids went to camp. 

Charlize and Phoebe have gone to camp together for four years now. Charlize's mom usually drives with us to take the kids over and pick them. Makes the time pass quickly when you have someone to chat with. Eve is from the Bronx, so she certainly has some stories to tell. 

Elizabeth went to a camp with some friends in town. She skipped a week of school to do that, so she is still schooling into the summer. But she had a good week at Camp Eagle. They keep you hopping!

Tether ball, nine square ~ Phoebe enjoys these games at camp. Jonathan loves gaga ball. I'd not heard of gaga ball or nine square till we moved to Texas. 

Jonathan and Harrison (friend, not brother) met at camp and have become good friends since we found out he lives only half an hour away. 

Phillip was also away visiting his parents and Cody in Missouri while the middle kids were at camp. So it was just myself and Liz and Harrison at home for a bit. Harrison learned about caves this year in school, and he didn't remember going to the caves near us when he was two, so he and I had a little field trip to Natural Bridge Caverns.

He was excited at first. And then he got nervous and asked me if I was going to make him go. And when I assured him that we were going to go, but would he trust me to let him know that it was going to be okay, he reluctantly complied. He told me several times in the cave that he was glad he came because it wasn't as scary as he thought it would be. He thought they were going to turn the lights out to see how dark it gets. But they didn't. I think they did that at the caves in Hannibal, MO. Or maybe it was somewhere else I've been. I know I've experienced that somewhere......

My phone didn't get the colors very well, but this is called cave bacon. They are drapery formations that look like strips of bacon. Better pictures here

Liz and her friend Adelyn cooked for me one evening. They made fried rice and cauliflower with orange sauce. Kind of like orange chicken, only with cauliflower. It was DELICIOUS. The kids are supposed to do more cooking this summer, and this was a great kick-off. 

Back from camp. 
Phoebe often gets sick once she gets back. She's a person who needs lots of alone time and down time ,and you don't get that for a solid week at camp. So once she gets back, she can be out for a good week with one sickness or another. This year she spiked a very high fever for about 12 hours, had chills and sore throat, stuffy nose, earache and hives. The fever left, but the rest of the gunk is kind of clinging. 

Jonathan back from camp. 
He pretty much just misses his friends and wishes camp was still going on. He does not test out as an introvert. He's an extrovert in a house full of introverts. Funny, because I grew up an introvert in a house full of extroverts.