Friday Favorites

We are officially on summer break! That means for two whole months there are no lunches to be prepped, no morning rush, no car line, staying up late, sleeping in, and lots of cousin time. The boys are pumped and I’m just glad that I get to join in on the fun! Right now we are catching up on Battle Bots and Pokemon episodes and I’m still binge watching Chef’s Table episodes after the boys go to bed. And now on to some of our favorites from the week!

I honestly need to stop collecting lip balms…it’s a problem!

Tips for getting kids to smile in photos….my favorite is to quickly grab a camera snap three pictures and hope for the best because they’re done after that, ha!

A colorful office tour that I love.

A hair mask to counteract my hair dryness due to the pool and sun.

A book that essentially tells you to look on the bright side.

Why you’re hungry at eleven, also known as why I eat second breakfast.

Cotton candy smoothies because, summer!

Things to do in Waco, to add to my Texas trip travel list.

And finally, creating a summer capsule wardrobe. Which honestly is just wishful thinking on my part. Expect to see me on mostly Athleta shorts and Madewell tees all summer.

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Natural well trail

B and I recently headed out on our last hike before fall that’s just the two of us. During the summer we hike with the boys, but there are some trails they can’t do, or that we want to test out before taking them on it. The natural well trail, across from Burritt on Mountain in Huntsville, is at least 4.5 miles round trip. I say at least because we didn’t go all the way to the end. It got too hazardous and over grown at one point and we ended up heading back.

The trail begins fairly smooth…

But about 1/2 mile in, we began having to climb over and under fallen trees, and make our way around streams and various little wildlife.

 

The main attraction of the hike is a large natural well, as the name indicates:

It was very cool to see, and we’d also heard that there was a waterfall further down. So, after more climbing and encountering a snake and bees, we reached the waterfall:

Not as cool as the well. But there were two unusual rock stacks:

So there’s that. We were moving so quickly downhill, that when we started back up, we didn’t realize how strenuous it would be. It definitely is NOT a kid friendly hike (at least not age 10 and under), but I would recommend it if you’re a middle of the road hiker, and if you have better hiking shoes than I did. After slipping twice climbing over trees, B said he’s buying me real hiking shoes!

Happy hiking!

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Best of road trips

For being a family that doesn’t always road trip well (motion sickness sufferers unite!), we have taken over fourteen plus road trips with the boys. As we’re planning for at least four road trips this year, I thought I’d share some of our favorite road trip past recommendations!

Recommendations if you’re going to the beach and staying at a condo…

If you’re sightseeing in the city with toddlers…

If you’re packing a backpack for each kiddo…

If you’re staying at a hotel

Essentials for on the road

And my necessary car items

If you’re packing for yourself and kiddos (including kids under the age of two)…

Carry-on essentials for myself and the boys on flights…

The reason we always carry two backpacks and my ultimate packing list.

Happy road tripping!

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Enchilada nachos

This super simple recipe makes for a perfect Saturday night dinner. I just slow cooked three chicken breasts for 5 hours covered with my taco spice blend, then shredded it. I cooked some Whole Foods frozen rice (have you tried their frozen rice? It’s awesome) and then piled chips, rice, chicken and a healthy drizzle of enchilada sauce (recipe to follow). Top with cheese and melt in the microwave or like this. Then add whatever you’re using up in the fridge that day!

Here’s the recipe for the enchilada sauce:

1 15 oz can red enchilada sauce (mild or medium)

1 tbs butter

1 tbs cornstarch mixed with 1-2 tsp warm water

1/4-1/2 cup sour cream

Directions

Heat enchilada sauce and butter in sauce pan until it reaches a boil. Let boil, stirring constantly for three minutes. Add in cornstarch, then reduce heat to low. Simmer five minutes then stir in sour cream. Serve over chicken and rice on nachos!

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Summer learning routine

I felt like a champion when I realized I scheduled my online discussions on my summer work days (also known as “things only teachers get excited about”):

And with my summer work schedule I’m also planning for the boys’ “avoid the summer slump” routine…outside of going to the pool:

Playing all the board games, puzzles, and domino mazes:

And summer road trips:

We’ll be doing…

Summer reading through the library

Kahn Academy courses in math and Pixar in a Box:

Xtramath for A (a program he can access through his school) & addition/subtraction flash cards for J

 

Mario Teaches Typing (super old, we found it and downloaded on our desktop for the kids)

Super Solvers (also super old, same deal as Mario Teaches Typing):

My plan is to have them switch off spending about a half-hour to hour a day on one of these four choices (reading will be everyday). They can pick one on one day, then pick a different one on another. By the end of the week we’ll have gotten to all five in some shape or form. I’m also planning to pick up a few new Smithsonian & Eyewitness books (either through Amazon or the library) like these:

 

J’s school also does an awesome summer learning packet:

And I’ve got a cursive writing learning packet for A:

We’re also going to take some craft days, pull out all the art supplies and just create and craft with abandon:

No artist, no story, just paint, create, and imagine. That’s the best of summer! Downtime, being bored, and learning on free flowing time. Oh and I’llalso be answering lots of this:

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Friday Favorites

Last field trip of Kindergarten with this kiddo! Can’t believe we are one week from summer break!

This was by far my favorite Mother’s Day card of the week:

The beauty essentials of summer. I’m adding this lip balm, and highlighter to the list.

My best dinner of the week. We had ours with quinoa and broccoli and the boys ate it up!

The float of the summer is a narwhal, and it is awesome.

I choose you, anti-aging food! Obviously I’ve been watching too much after school Pokemon with the boys.

LLaid back waves, perfect for summer.

OMG I found my shopping spot for my niece for her birthday.

Spring trends to try.

Some of the boys favorite things to do at Disney aren’t the rides.

While the boys are still in school, I’m working from home. I’ve got Chef’s Table on repeat in the background and the episode on Cristina Tossi’s Milk Bar is my favorite!

And finally, a no bake key lime pie to make with the boys.

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Cashew sprinkle cookies

The cashew. Literally the only nut butter that everyone in my house is not allergic to. And if you’re thinking, why not use sunbutter, B is allergic to sunflowers. So there’s that. Anyway. This is a spin on a peanut butter cookie, rolled in whatever sprinkles I have on hand, and it’s also super crumbly. However, the boys don’t mind the mess, and it’s quickly become a dessert favorite. They are easy to throw together, but you will need a hand mixer to get it nice and creamy before you roll them in all those sprinkles.

Ingredients

1 cup cashew butter

1 egg

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups of assorted sprinkles

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first five ingredients and beat for two minutes on medium with a hand mixer (I find this combines it better than my stand mixer). Roll a tablespoon scoop completely in sprinkles then place cookies 1 inch apart on a slipat mat. Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until done. Cool on the pan for 3 minutes before moving to a baking rack to cool completely.

 

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Front porch refresh

From winter…

To Spring…

And our new corner nook…

Our back porch is not covered at all, so especially in the summer, we rarely sit out there during the day. Our front porch on the other hand is completely covered, and we frequently sit out front to watch the boys play basketball or ride bikes. After getting tired of sitting on the ground out front, we invested in two chairs and a small table. We also have a great view of the “mountain” from our front porch, so it’s pretty to sit out there. All the new pieces we got on sale from Target!

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