Sunday, September 21, 2014

Road Trip Weekend

This photo was taken at a Wendy's in Green Bay before we headed back home after Stake Conference. Yes, Sophia is wearing her pajamas. She planned on napping in the car, and nap she did!
This weekend we headed down to Green Bay for our stake conference. While my attitude about the four-hour trek was not good when we first moved here (see this post), I have come to really love going down. We aren't always able to do it for various reasons, but when we can, it doesn't even feel like a sacrifice anymore. We get to be spiritually edified, we get to shop at places we don't have anywhere in the U.P., we get to eat places we don't have in the U.P., and we get to spend time with good friends. What could be better?

This time, we decided to go down a day earlier than usual to get in some really good shopping time in Appleton. I didn't have a chance to take the girls proper school shopping this year, and there were a few things that each of them still really needed. Bria was especially excited to get to shop in stores like Forever 21 and Aeropostale and Hollister. (Also, judging from Chloe's new hoodie in the photo and her Forever 21 shoes you can't see, she realized that these stores are pretty cool, too.)

The fall colors were out and gorgeous on our drive down. I didn't bring my big camera, or I would have stopped and taken more than a few drive-bys with my phone.

We stayed in a hotel the first night (totally free due to points earned on our NYC trip earlier this year), but before we checked in we ate at our favorite restaurant: Noodles and Company.

I love that they have good gluten-free options, and the girls love the awesome soda machine and the chopsticks. The Maestro just loves the food.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Halloween Mantel and Tulle Wreath

You guys, it's the middle of September and I have not yet decorated my house for fall! And I'm thinking I might just skip the fall decor all together and move straight to Halloween!  This weekend we are headed down to Stake Conference, and I am so excited to go to real craft stores that are not WalMart!

I thought I had shared all of my Halloween decor from last year, but I found a couple photos that I never posted, and since I am totally in the mood for Halloween decor, I'm posting them now.

This was my Halloween mantel from last year:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Gluten-free Made Easy

I'm excited to be reviewing another gluten-free cookbook today: Gluten-Free Made Easy by Christi Silbaugh and Michele Vilseck. It is chock full of delicious-looking recipes, as well as tips and tricks to make converting your kitchen to gluten-free much easier.

I'm always looking for good gluten-free muffins to put in the girls' school lunches, and there was a particularly yummy looking recipe in the book for Apple Cinnamon Streusel Muffins. So perfect for the fall weather we are beginning to have!

Bria made them all herself, and while I think she may not have put enough of the dry ingredients into the streusel topping, they still turned out very tasty. I asked for permission from the publisher to share this recipe with you and they said yes. And when you try them, you'll definitely want to make sure you have the rest of the recipes in this cookbook ASAP!

Delicious apple cinnamon streusel muffins, just in time for fall! Plus a review of Gluten-free Made Easy, a new cookbook full of delicious GF recipes and tips to making your kitchen gluten-free.

Gluten-free Apple Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

Dry Ingredients:

1 Cup Coconut Flour
1 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
3 tsp Baking Powder
3 tsp Ground Cinnamon

Sunday, September 14, 2014

And the Struggle for Balance has Officially Begun...

We had a "Linger Longer Potluck" after church today, so I took the Sunday photo there, with some friends! Yes, Chloe brought clothes to change into. I suppose it's preferable to spilling chili or chocolate or something all over her dress like Sophia did.

So the insanity has pretty much started this past week. Early morning seminary, music lessons for the kids, and my own lessons at the University all started this week. Soccer and cross-country are still in full swing, but thankfully they will be over before youth orchestra, violin group lessons, and girl scouts start.

We seem to have the early morning seminary bit down to a science already, and I'm thankful for The Maestro for doing all the driving. Here's our new morning schedule (and since I am a night owl, I officially hate it, but that's the deal I made when I decided to have children):

5:30 am: Wake up Bria
5:35 am: Try to go back to sleep for a half hour while she practices her violin, end up perusing Pinterest on my phone instead
6:00 am: Bria gets ready, I get up and start to make lunches (I have been trying to do this the night before with absolutely no luck)
6:20 am: Throw some breakfast at Bria if she is finished getting ready, if not, she has to eat something in the car.
6:25 am: Two of Bria's seminary classmates are dropped off to our house by their father, and The Maestro takes the three of them to class, which is about a 15 minute drive from our house. They start at 6:45 am.
6:30 am: I wake up the other two girls and get them started with making their beds and getting dressed and helping them do their hair.
6:50 am: Feed them breakfast
7:05 am: Brush teeth and gather backpacks and lunches, The Maestro usually comes back home around now
7:15 am: Family scripture study and prayer, minus Bria. (I'm not sure how to add her back into scripture study, but at least she's studying the scriptures elsewhere, and we catch her on the weekends!)
7:25 am: Chloe and Sophia walk up the hill to the bus stop.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

9/11 Memorial in NYC

In honor of the 13th anniversary of September 11, 2001, I thought I would share some of the photos I took when The Maestro and I visited the memorial in New York City in May.

IMG_7843 NYC web

The museum didn't open until the end of May, so we missed that, but the memorial itself was absolutely stunning. It had a presence and a reverence about it that was undeniable, and we spent a lot of time reflecting, reading names, and remembering.

IMG_7864 NYC web

I thought it was neat how they put white roses on the names of people who would have been celebrating a birthday that day. Sometimes other types of flowers (or flags) were in names, obviously placed there by loved ones.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Dear Moms: It's Okay to Take Time for Yourself

Dear Moms,

I know that you put yourself last all day long. You are the first one out of bed in the morning and the last one back in bed at night. You work tirelessly cleaning, cooking, and chauffeuring children. You don't take time for yourself, because you simply don't have time for yourself. There is laundry to be done, there are bills to be paid, and there is no rest for the weary.

I know you do this, because I do it, too.

I also know that if you do try to take a little time for yourself by reading a couple chapters in your book, sitting down to watch your favorite television show, or going out to lunch with a friend that you probably feel guilty. You think about all of the things you could have accomplished during that time and you feel that you shouldn't have indulged.

Whenever I decide to ignore the dishes or the laundry or the whole of my to-do list while I do something for myself I feel like a failure. At the end of the day, when I see how much I didn't accomplish, I feel terrible.

Why do we feel so very guilty abotu taking time for ourselves? More importantly, why do we think that burning ourselves out is so honorable? There is something wrong with this picture!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

First Week of School

IMG_9324 Sunday Photo web
Today after church: Even Puccini smiled for my camera!

Well, we survived the first week of school. And now we will do it all again tomorrow morning, only earlier because of early morning seminary. The Maestro has graciously offered to take her most of this week as I get my own self back in the groove of working again. Also, I need to finish my syllabus and make a bunch of copies tomorrow before I start on Tuesday. I am such a procrastinator!

And because I am such a procrastinator (plus I've had a crazy first week of school, even without working yet!), I haven't put up first day photos. Which is awful, because they are my favorite thing ever. I LOVE seeing first day of school photos of ANY kid, but especially my own. There is just this wonderful, palpable spirit of new beginnings and excitement that I really enjoy seeing.

So, here is my newly minted third grader with her adorable new haircut. Look closely, and you can see that cheetah print is still in her outfit (the girl on her shirt is wearing it). I love my Cheetah Girl!