Saturday, May 30, 2015

On the slower days

When it comes to homeschooling, there are many days that we hit the ground running and I feel a bit like a drill sergeant keeping the girls on task with their assignments and chores, etc, all while attempting to keep a house in order and keep people alive, happy and healthy.  There are definitely those days, however, that are much slower paced and natural and we go with the flow of the opportunities around us.  

This week, we had at least one of those days and it was so great.  

One particular day, we started our day as usual with some morning time together doing our devotions.  365 Very Veggie Devos for Girls is one of our favorites.  It's easy for all of their ages to grasp. 

We then took a trip to the library and stocked up.  Everyone dove into some new books.  This always keeps them entertained for a while. 

I loved The Very Lonely Firefly and wanted to read it aloud to the girls.  For whatever reason, it felt like I was narrating something when I was reading, so.....

... we decided to give it a shot and do a short narrative play.  We gathered props and cast characters and presented it for daddy when he came home.  It was so much fun!!! Check out the "fireflies" below.  Our first of many small performances, I'm sure. 

We then moved into the kitchen and our oldest put her culinary skills to work and whipped up some guacamole for us. 

As you can see it didn't last long with this group. 

I had lentil soup planned for dinner, so I let my oldest get some recipe reading experience.  It's perfect because she has been working on measurements and fractions this year.  This girl has skills! 

I hope you enjoy the recipe and will take the opportunity to slow down to cook, play and learn together!  I think it takes more discipline for many of us to do that than it does to keep going full speed?!  Agree? 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Muffins! Muffins! Gluten Free Muffins!

We make a LOT of muffins around here.  They are a healthy alternative to a quick breakfast and perfect for mornings that we have to get out the door quickly.

We've also recently gone gluten free, so I've been on the hunt for healthy breakfast alternatives. Muffins are a perfect fit.

I have several different recipes for gluten free muffins like our go to banana oatmeal muffins. 

My girls' favorite is this gluten free zucchini muffin recipe.  Yum!!!

These look like muffin tops?! LOL

Gluten Free Zucchini Muffins

3 c gluten free flour (I use this)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bakng soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsp ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 T ground flax seed
1 c olive oil
1 c honey
3 tsp vanilla
2 c grated organic zucchini
(optional) 1 c chopped walnuts or 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Bake at 325 degrees for 40-60 minutes.  Enjoy!!

For a recent road trip, we made pumpkin muffins, banana/oatmeal muffins and zucchini muffins. Yikes! Looks like I need some new baking sheets. 

Do you have any gluten free muffin recipes to share? 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Oops! We learned something!

Incidental learning or I was having fun and oops, I learned something, is such an integral part of childhood. Incidental learning is learning that takes place without any intent to learn. (source

When I think of my own experiences with language and geography, for example, I received formal second language training when working on my degrees. I learned a great deal from my amazing professors, books and studies and am so grateful for those opportunities.  However, the majority of my fluency and knowledge of culture and geography came by traveling, spending time within the culture or with people from other cultures. 

There were no books or classroom involved in these experiences.  These were simply things I loved to do, but learned a great deal along the way.

This is exactly what I want for our children, as well as do most parents, I suspect. 

All this to say, homeschooling has allowed us so much flexibility.  A world of opportunity is open for us to learn, explore and discover daily.  We take advantage of this by taking at least one "field trip" or exploration every week. Whether it be the beach, a park, a museum or another city, state or country.  This family loves to go!

Most recently, we took a day trip to Holland, Michigan for the annual Tulip Time Festival.  It's like getting a little taste of the Netherlands right here in the Midwest. 

This was such a great opportunity to learn about Dutch culture, check out the beautiful tulips, wooden clogs, and windmills.  

Tulip Time parade

tiptoeing through the tulips, literally

my beautiful tulip crew

Grandpa (Papa) and the crew (looks like an extra little one tried to join us LOL)

What have you [acidentally] learned lately?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Confession: I'm a Protein Diva!

I'm a pretty easy going gal. I don't get all worked up over brand names or  keeping up with the Joneses.  I love great deals, pinching pennies and I have no problem admitting that many of our things are bought at garage sales, discount stores or come as hand me downs. 

When it comes to the health and wellness of my family, there are a few things , however, that I have chosen to be a little picky about.   

One of them is my protein powder

Being into fitness for most of my life, as well as being a vegetarian, I have relied on protein drinks to help supplement the protein in my diet. I have tried pretty much every kind of protein on the market.  After years of gagging forcing several brands down, I finally found a brand that was actually palatable.  

To my disappointment, I learned that it contained so many additives and ingredients that were not benefiting my body, but actually harming it [sigh].  This is the case with many protein powders/drinks.

To name a few of these not so wonderful ingredients:

Artificial Sweeteners

The dangers of artificial sweeteners are no longer a secret. Even if we are not talking about the possibility of the big "C", artificial sweeteners, like Splenda, can destroy gut flora and are acidic, unlike stevia, which is alkaline. 

So many protein powders add aspartame or splenda to keep the sugar content low yet make the taste more palatable.  Watch out for this.


For years, whey protein became my protein of choice.  This was because soy protein can be a hormone disruptor and I don't like eggs (egg white protein). What is whey? 
  • "After fat and casein are removed from milk, dairy processors are left with whey protein." (source)
A few disappointing facts about whey include:
-whey is acidic
-whey can be allergenic and bother people who have issues with dairy 

Soy is a hormone disruptor and I stay clear from it.  In my ignorance, I was consuming toxic levels for a long time as I thought it was a good supplement to my vegetarian diet.  Long story short, that was destroying my body in several ways.  I don't consume soy nor do I give it to my girls. Guys, unless you want to start wearing a bra, I would stear clear of it, too. 

The conclusion...
After switching to vegan protein, I bought a container of vegan protein at a local health store.  Well, after gagging from the smell and taste, I'm disappointed to say that my money went out the window as its sits in the cabinet a year later. 

Then...behold I finally found the protein of my dreams. [Dramatic? Yes! but I'm so excited after searching for literally 18 years!]

Arbonne, vegan non-GMO protein is plant based and FREE from dairy, soy, gluten and artificial sweeteners. Yayyyyy!  Not to mention, it smells and tastes like cake batter.  Oh my gooooodness!  

(My girls love it and my husband [who can be quite picky regarding taste] agrees that there is nothing like it.  He has a protein smoothie every morning. )

More benefits of Arbonne Protein
-High protein content
-No cholesterol
-Low glycemic index
-Does not contribute to aminoacidemia, like whey 
kidney stones or fatty liver  

(Dr. Kelly Martin, B.S., Pharm.D.)

Did I mention that it tastes so good??!?!

So, friends, that's the story of how I became a "protein diva".  You can put it to the test here.

Oh, have you ever tried making protein balls?  They are in high demand at our house!

So please, fellow health and fitness fanatics, check your ingredients!!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Cinco de Mayo 2015

Cinco de Mayo is one of my favorite holidays for various reasons and I usually post something about it. This year, I jumped at an opportunity to take our daughters to a beautiful cultural celebration. 

(My little gringas.  This place was standing room only within minutes.)

In case you just celebrate for the food or cerveza and aren't exactly sure what the occassion is, let me fill you in. On May 5, 1862 the Mexican army defeated the French army at the Battle of Puebla. The battle was the root of the Cinco De Mayo holiday that is now celebrated. Today, it signifies Hispanic and Mexican pride as well as the culture.  

Around our house, we love Mexican food, music, language and of course....Mexicans. Let's not forget how wonderful fiestas and siestas are!!!

Mexico, itself, has very special meaning to me, personally. It's the place that I took my very first international mission trip when I was a teenager, which changed the course of my life in so many ways.  One of them being, my pursuit of learning Spanish.  

Another reason is that one of my dearest friends is a missionary in Mexico with her sweet family. 

I'm grateful to be a part of a local ministry where we live that reaches out to  immigrant families in our area.  Among the many cultures involved, we have gotten to know some precious Mexican families.  I love that our children have had the opportunity to mesh with other cultures, practice their Spanish and expand their worldview.

Each year, the church that many of these local families attend puts on a huge Cinco de Mayo festival.  Free of charge, the ladies cook a MUY GRANDE Mexican meal and the Folkloric Dance teams perform in their amazing costumes.  The afternoon ends with all of the children hitting beautifully colorful piƱatas. 

I hope you will enjoy an amazing Mexican meal somewhere today.  Don't forget to show some love to these beautiful people.  A smile and an "hola" is a great place to start. 

Need some ideas for practicing Spanish with your kids? Check this out!

Does your family celebrate Cinco de Mayo?