29 April 2010

Homemade Granola Bars

Toasted goodness...

Packed in a 9x9 baking dish.

Cut into bars and stored in an airtight container.

I made granola bars for the first time this morning and to my delight, I already had all the ingredients I needed in my pantry. Rather than all the nuts listed in the original recipe, I used almonds, walnuts and a small bag of trail mix that I had. The trail mix had various nuts like sunflower seeds and pistachios as well as currents and dates. I also used mostly cranberries and just a small amount of raisins. I adored the texture of each nut and fruit in the bar and overall, it just tasted so much better for you than the store bought ones. I also liked the fact that the recipe had very little to do with baking! :) My whole family enjoyed them so I don't think I can ever go back to buying another granola bar again. Next time, I'm adding chocolate chips to half the batch!

27 April 2010

Days of the Week Song

video

(To the tune of Oh My Darlin', Clementine)

"Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday..."

I taught the days of the week to the girls in 2 days. I can't take credit for it though, I saw the idea on my blogger friend, Kari's blog. Her son learned this song in preschool and I thought it was a fun way to learn the days of the week. Come to think of it- just about anything is fun to learn when you sing it!

26 April 2010

Being Intentional

Little Lovelies.

Sisterly Love.

Grace took this one (so nice to have our own photographers).

Hangin' out.

Cutie pies.

Faith, relaxing by the river.

Just for the record, they come up with their own poses!

Gracie.

Doing the hula.

Dancing and having a blast!

Doing some kind of 'cat walk' on the stage.

Grace, our free spirit.

Showing off her cool moves.

Another fun and fantastic weekend! Lately, Morgan and I have been trying to be truly intentional about our parenting. We're both enthusiastically embracing our way of life as a homeschooling family and the weekends often give us plenty of joint parenting opportunities to engage, teach, and show our kids what it means to enjoy life. Of course, I've been trying to do it on a budget as well. Actually, it makes it kinda fun! This Saturday, we attended our city's 28th birthday celebration. The celebration took place at a local park with lots of games, booths, giveaways, and fun activities for the kids. The girls love to go to festivals or anything like that and we enjoy being an active part of our community. We had snacks, lunch, and drinks at the event- all free of charge! Saturday afternoon, we decided to go to The River. We just felt like people watching, walking around, and hearing some live music. Some of the best times we've had as a family are just walking around hand-in-hand, exploring things as we go. We enjoyed throwing pennies in the river and making wishes, dining al fresco, and dancing our tushes off to the outdoor band. Total cost- $20 for dinner at Baja Fresh.

Sunday, we had a great morning at church. In the evening, we were invited to dinner by one of Morgan's clients. The girls got to swim in their pool for an hour (on their own) while the adults chatted away. So nice! Even there, after dinner, I found myself engaging my children (instead of just wishing they would find something to occupy themselves with). I used this time to teach them something. There happened to be a pool table that the girls were interested in so we had a lesson about pool, counting, shapes, etc. We even made up a fun game. I think our hosts were charmed and amused. :) Another great night and only $20 spent the whole weekend. Not bad!

Making a conscious effort to be more intentional with our children and our time is important for me, especially because it doesn't come as natural to me as it does for Morgan. Lately, I've been feeling so incredibly blessed. There are so many little and simple things that I'm thankful for. Each making up such a huge and profound sense of gratitude. Most of all, I'm especially thankful to God for my girls. They are amazing little gifts of light to me and I am so often humbled by the fact that God chose me to be their mom. My children are certainly not perfect (no such thing!) but by and large, their hearts are tender and their spirits are joyful. They are both uniquely individual, yet they share a bond and closeness that few of us will ever know. I am crazy in love with them and their little personalities and it's been so much fun getting to know them and watching them blossom. I use this word a lot but privilege is the best word that comes to mind. I'm loving this age, too. My friend Genny said it best. She said four year olds are so much fun because they're still little kids but beyond the neediness of a toddler. At this age, my kids also know what's expected and understand full well the appropriate consequences for their actions. They are making wiser choices and communicating more effectively.
I love it!

Intentional mothering is certainly a constant choice. I'm already finding that the blessing of homeschooling has allowed me to be more aware of it throughout the day. Believe me, it's not that I think I do it so well- I'm just realizing more and more that God already knows how capable I am. He believes in me. That's the humbling part. It's also the part that gives me all the strength and confidence I need to be the best I can be for my family and for God's glory.
I am so thankful to be a mom! It is my greatest challenge, as well as my greatest joy. My kids are barely four and I've learned so many valuable lessons in life. Lessons that may not have come without the experience of motherhood. Being a mom allows me to see the parallel relationship between us and our Heavenly Father. He disciplines us, He encourages us, He has our best interest at heart, He withholds no good thing from us, He forgives us, He would never leave or forsake us- all because He loves us. I heard a song at church this Sunday called "Desert Song" by Hillsong. The song is a prayer about choosing to praise God is all circumstances; in the good or bad, in the desert or the harvest. It reminded me that although right now, "I'm in a season where favour and providence flow. I know I'm filled to be emptied again. This seed I've received I will sow..."

Praising God for all of my life, for my sweet little girls, for everything.

23 April 2010

Give a Day, Get a Day

Me and Peanut.

Morgan and Sammy.

Morgan leading Sammy.

Yesterday afternoon, Morgan and I volunteered at Healing Horses Therapeutic Riding Center through the "Disney, Give a Day, Get a Day" program. Originally, we picked Healing Horses because of it's proximity to our home (it's across the street). We also liked the idea of getting to work with animals and kids. Many volunteers of all ages showed up. Unfortunately, the girls were too young to volunteer. Since Morgan and I had some riding experience, we were quickly picked to be one of the few horse leaders. What an AWESOME experience it was! It was way cooler than anything I had anticipated. Hey, at least we weren't cleaning stalls, right? Ha! Our main goal was to lead our horse around the perimeter of the stables and eventually, out on the horse trail while stopping at various "therapy stations." Each station had several more volunteers that had different games and techniques available to help the rider increase awareness, strength, balance, and initiative. Morgan and I were not only able to work with these beautiful horses, but we also got to witness how these kids with special needs and autism thrive with this kind of horse therapy. It was a privilege to witness their progression, cheer them on, and all the while, be responsible for handling such a strong yet graceful animal. We only spent 2 hours of our afternoon there but rather than giving, we were the ones who received the blessing. Funny how that works when you serve others. They do some amazing work over at Healing Horses. We will definitely be back to see our new friends.

21 April 2010

Four














These are some of my favorites from the girls' recent 4 year-old photo shoot.
I was going for a 'playful' and 'whimsical' look to remember these days by, since that's what the girls are into these days- playing dress up and flittering about. Katie captured some beautiful moments from behind her camera. It's such a blessing to have such talented and generous friends. Thank you, Katie! So far,
I have to say that four is shaping up to be a fantastic age!

Accessories

It's subtle but I added some accessories to my blog and I LOVE it! My favorite is the vintage jeweled butterfly on my blog header. It all started when I tried to change/update the picture of the girls a couple of days ago in my header but somehow I ended up erasing the whole thing! Wouldn't you know it? The person who designed my blog before isn't doing it anymore. I wasn't quite ready yet for a new blog design so I had to enlist some help from another professional. Wish I could say I was more computer savy, but sigh- I am not. Diana, over at freestylemama fixed my error in a jiffy and also helped me add a few fun and girlie touches. I love the added 'bling' it gives to my blog!

19 April 2010

Goodbye, Coachella...

... Hello, SAN DIEGO!!

Wee!

Hands up!

Walrus.

The Beluga whales were amazing!

Me and my angel.

Touching bat rays.

Faith took a picture of us.

Waiting for Shamu (in the splash zone!).

A close-up.

Grace holds a starfish.

A hungry seal waits for his snack.

Faith on the carousel at Seaport Village.

Gracie, always ready for her close-up.

Getting her arm painted.

Beautiful!

Polly want a cracker?

Picnic by the bay.

Just the girls.

Sleeping with sis is fun!

Faith enjoys her hot chocolate at Idyllwild.

Our two little cubs.

Gracie, my beary sweet girl.

Going on a hike.

Gracie with what she calls, her Moses staff.

Humber Park in Idyllwild.

Picnic lunch at Lake Hemet.

Little explorers.

This past weekend brought Coachella Fest- the annual music festival in April that brings over 200,000 people to our desert. In the last 3 years that we've lived here, we've managed to tolerate the noise (we live practically across the street from the venue) and excess amounts of people to our otherwise, quiet resort community. Not this year! Morgan and I decided to get out of town and leave the noise and traffic behind. We used our Marriott points for one free night's stay and booked another night at the same hotel on Priceline for only $51! Can't beat that for a weekend away in San Diego! I love the fact that we got away with spending very little money this weekend. We took advantage of our annual passes and made 2 trips to Sea World. Our hotel offered a complimentary buffet breakfast every morning and since I brought drinks, snacks and sandwich stuff from home, our lunches were taken care of as well. We only spent about $60 on dinner for both nights (Macaroni Grill & Jalapenos) and maybe another $20 on incidentals. Not bad considering I probably would've spent more money staying home. Ha!

It was nice to be able to have Morgan all to ourselves and we got a chance to connect and talk at length on our drive as well as in the evenings. We commented on how easy the girls are traveling these days. They are pretty self sufficient and it's a lot of fun to just be together and hang out. We stopped by Idyllwild and Lake Hemet on the way home for a snack, a hike and lunch by the lake. Beautiful weather and good times!

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