Cooking with kids~Pumpkin Cookies

Today is the beginning of a brand new series here. Cooking with my kids is something I am trying to do more of. Sometimes it is easier to just get in the kitchen and do it myself. But other times it is easier to involve one of them because then it cuts down on the fighting from boredom.

In celebration of hoping and wishing for fall here in the deep south, Lil Man and I made Pumpkin Cookies. I have to admit I have never tried these. I don’t like pumpkin! *GASP* There I said it while everyone is counting down to Pumpkin this and that, I am looking forward to apple flavored items. But my family loves these easy cookies. And they don’t last long at all, so they must be good.

I found this recipe on Pinterest. It only takes 2 ingredients can of pumpkin puree and box of spice cake mix.

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Mix them up real good.

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And bake at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes. Let cool. These are a soft cookie so they won’t take long to bake and less likely to dry out.

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I am a huge fan of Pinterest! You can follow me at http://www.pinterest.com/jeanetteford/.

Enjoy!

 

Coffee Cake Muffins

Today is the first day of school here. We have had a long standing tradition of pancakes for breakfast, but my daughter is beginning her junior year.  I felt it was time for a bit of a change to celebrate her grown-ness (yeah I just made that word up). I found a yummy recipe in my 2012 Taste of Home Quick Cooking cookbook that I felt was perfect for your teens first day back to school or a mom’s brunch.

These true (yes, there is coffee) Coffee Cake Muffins have a crumb topping with a jam filled center. Amazing!

 

Coffee Cake Muffins

1 1/2 cups All purpose flour

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup brewed coffee

1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil

1 egg

1/4 cup apricot preserves I have apricot preserves, but I think peach or strawberry would also be yummy.

 

Topping:

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

 

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and then stir in the coffee, oil and egg.

Fill paper lined muffin tins about a 1/4 of the way full. Drop 1 teaspoon of preserves in the center.

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Cover with remaining batter.

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Time to make the topping. In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon and cut in the cold butter.  Stir in the walnuts. Sprinkle over the tops.

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Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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And yes there are 2 without topping on it. Not because I didn’t have enough, but because my son doesn’t like walnuts.

Enjoy!

 

 

Young bucks nowadays

I’m 32 years old and really the only thing I have accomplished in my life is being a mom. I never went to college. I never traveled the world. I never had any dreams or aspirations because I never thought I could reach them. So I just didn’t. And now at 32 years old, I struggle to know who I am and feel as though I am just watching the world go by.

Then I see a young 19 year old. Who is top of the class at culinary school and is just letting the opportunities pass by. They’re right there in arms reach, a hand starts to reach for it, then hesitates and draws back. The 19 year old and the chip on the shoulder settles with many excuses to go around about why not now.

My question exactly WHY NOT NOW?

Why not go to London and cook at a 5 star restaurant? Life back home will still be there.

Why not go and intern with Graham Elliot from Masterchef in Chicago? Home will still be here.

Why not take a leap of faith and explore the world? Family will still be here.

I am just a low man on the totem pole home cook, but I would jump at those opportunities. Going to culinary school alone, would make me over the moon! But to have these kind of opportunities is amazing and once in a lifetime opportunities.

So to all the young bucks, children, kids or teenagers! Take it from someone who wishes she made more of her life. Just a little friendly advice or encouragement.

I wish I had the opportunities you have or will have in your lives. Don’t be afraid to go out there and explore this world. Yes, it will be scary. But take that leap. Take as many opportunities that come your way. Go to London to cook with a 5 star restaurant. Or go to college in another state where they have 4 seasons. If you fall in love with that place, don’t be sad that you left us behind because we will still be here cheering you on. Leave the nest and spread your wings. Don’t ever settle in life. Make your life what you want it to be.

I wish I had to opportunity to live in a different state or country. To experience a new culture and see new things.

I wish I had a career goal and knew what I wanted to be and went for it.

I wish I had some passions and just went for it.

It’s not going to be easy but life never is. Things may not always work out how you pictured, but life never does.

In the end, you will make mistakes and you will live and learn. And you will grow!

But at least you lived your life, instead of watching it pass you by.

Because no matter what path you choose, you always end up where you need to be.

Home.

Family

 

Homeschooling after vacation

Apparently, my kids took our Spring Break as the beginning of summer. We have had a really, REALLY hard time getting back on a routine. The first week home we did some review because I knew we had testing coming up the following week. Plus an unexpected (but welcomed) house guest stayed with us for a few days. So after life got settled down, I thought it will be easy to knock out the next 2 months. We are refreshed and ready to go….or not. Everytime we sat at our table for school time, I dreaded it. I wanted to be doing other things, crafts, science projects and more, not sitting at the table giving another spelling test or reviewing the same concept of a sentence for my special needs child for the millionth time. I love homeschooling, it’s one of my passions, but I was hating it at the same time. Turns out I have Homeschool Burn Out. I don’t know how many times I threatened to send the kids back to school because I was over it. All I wanted to do was throw out our books!

Guess what? I did just that!

We are doing fun learning! Something I call school for Dakota because he “hates” school and it’s boring. I now do for all 3. We put all books away except for our Math. I sat down with my computer and tablet and made lessons plans based on what we are learning and using hands on activities, including lapbooking and notebooking.

Before this happened, I read a few articles online about Homeschool Burn Out, but never really took it seriously. Believe me, it is a serious condition! If I hadn’t taken action, I may have put my kids back in public school. For my kids (not all) that would have been very damaging. Plus I am not sure what I would have done with my day. I am glad something in my mind clicked and said research this. And when I read all the symptoms: depression, not wanting to do school, threatening to put kids in school, tired and irritability. I knew this is what I was fighting. Thankfully, I saw what me and the kids didn’t want to do and changed to the items we were craving, using our creativity!

It’s only been 3 days since I threw out the books, but it has felt so refreshing to be free. I am beginning to see that play really is the best education you can give a child. And I am focused more on doing than filling out a worksheet.

Momma’s sick week

Last week I came down with a sinus infection that just really wiped me out. All I wanted to do was sit and rest, watch TV and drink Sprite. But as a stay at home~schooling mom whose husband works from home that was not happening. Instead of trying to be Supermom and keep doing everything, I made some adjustments to our days so that I had some moments of rest. I think it is the first time in years that when I got sick I took sick days and didn’t feel guilty at all. Life still went on and school went on but without me being in the middle of it. And I honestly think it was good for the kids.

First thing was school. It was more of independent learning. I would say the lessons and activities I wanted completed and they would go about and do their thing. Now everyday I did manage to do History and Science with them and grade some papers before I was spent. And my lil man did keep on doing preschool work, just a little less than usual. Which of course he was fine with.

Unfortunately, I picked the wrong week business wise. Hubby is working on some solid surface countertops, which is like a stone countertop, and he needed me all week for moving and lifting and flipping. So that was where my focus was, helping him and resting in between. I would lay with my sprite and tv until he called, go out back, help, come back and rest.

I delegated the cooking to Cailin because she is an aspiring chef. I even drove my two oldest up to Publix with a grocery list and money and waited in the parking lot while they shopped.  All the girls helped out with the Dakota, fixing him lunch, snacks and drinks. Daddy even put him to bed one night which never happens, because he is a Momma’s boy. It was nice. My hubby tried to get me to rest more, by telling me to let the kids be kids and just rest and watch movies, but then 5 minutes later he would call for help. It was a nice thought though.

All in all, I did realize that my children are getting to that age where I can ask more from them when I need to. But I also realized that they too are becoming independent little adults and don’t need me as much. Which means pretty soon they will be off on their own with their lives and families and not momma’s little babies no more. So bittersweet.

2014 homeschooling schedule

I am excited for this new chapter of schooling. I made some changes that I hope and pray will work because I just don’t know if I can handle throwing out and starting over part 3. Originally we were doing 6 weeks of school and then a 2 week break. This was idea when my kids were younger, but now we are in middle school. And honestly 6 weeks isn’t enough time to fit in all the learning that we wanted to do. Basically any hands on activity and field trips got pushed to the back burner. They have burned to a crisp by now.

Plus I realized when the holidays were upon us, there just wasn’t enough time to do our regular homeschool routine and celebrate with fun activities. So, of course, all the fun was sucked out again. Also I felt like I was always rushed to shop and entertain and homeschool and EVERYTHING!!! I didn’t get to enjoy it!

Well I have found a schedule that will fix all that. January through May, we are doing school consistently with a week off in March for Spring Break. Our spring break will be different every year because we will coordinate with my oldest daughters school schedule. They will also have the occasional day off here or there.  We will wrap our school year up in May and have June and July off for summer break. Then in August we will start our new school year and homeschool strong with the occasional day off through to Thanksgiving. The week of Thanksgiving will mark our Holiday break. We will be off until after the first of the year.

This schedule is just for my older kids. My preschooler will be doing school all the time. His schedule is a little more relaxed. We usually do school 3-4 days a week. And he needs consistency to keep up with what he is learning. These breaks are the perfect time for some one on one time with mommy.

 

 

 

 

 

My old life vs my new life

City Life vs Country Life

Stay at Home Mom vs Homeschooling Mom

I remember dropping the kids off at school and going to a PTA meeting. Then heading to the mall, Target or a restaurant for lunch. Grocery shopping with no kids was normal. I made sure all of my errands were done by the time I picked my kids up from school so I wouldn’t have to go out with all 3 of them.

But I also remember the traffic and the way our neighborhood was going down hill. Our kids had no yard to play in and even if they did I wouldn’t let them. The playground down the road was home to daily drug deals and bratty teenagers. All things my babies were not going to be exposed to.

Then again, I remember how much I loved my children’s school. How nice the teachers were. You couldn’t go ten feet without someone saying hello or good morning. The school was fantastic. Had we stayed in that area, I don’t know if I would have started homeschooling.

But then I remember the way I had to leash up my dogs and take them out one by one. I also remember how scary it was doing that in the dark.

Then we moved out here where there is no traffic except during our fair days. I have an acre and half for my kids and dogs to run in. No more leashes, drug deals and bratty teenagers (except my own).

Oh but the school, I hated it. I was supposedly part of the PTA board but they never included me. I was made to feel like I wasn’t welcomed because I was new. The teachers gossiped instead of greeting you when you walked through the halls. I remember being mortified when a teacher followed me out of a classroom to continue an argument with me. I remember being looked at with disgusted to whole rest of the year. I also remember constantly fighting with the teachers to follow my special needs child’s IEP. I also remember the way they let kids bully her because she didn’t look special needs.

And now I get up start my day with a cup of coffee. Get my oldest off to school and feel good knowing my other kids are right where they should be. Every child’s path is different. Every family’s life is different. There was a fork in the road for me and I could have stayed being the typical suburban mom or moved to country and become a totally different person.

My heart is fuller knowing I changed into someone who is not so shallow, not self absorbed and very much fighting for her kids. I wanted to fit into the whole status quo of what a suburban mom is: shopping, socializing and, yes on the outside, a good mom and wife.

But I honestly regret those years that I wasn’t home with my girls. I wish I lived out in the country from the beginning and homeschooled from Kindergarten and up. I wish I saw how fast that time was going to go by and treasured it a little more.

Better late than never though.

Here we go again! Throwing out the plans Part 2!

Yes, that is right. I am revamping our homeschool schedule again! This is what I love about homeschooling. The fact that I can stop and change directions on a whim is empowering.

So this what we were doing in the beginning.

I was trying to fit every subject into everyday. I was also trying to do preschool like I did it back 10 years ago in a daycare center. And I was trying to follow the Florida school calendar.

This didn’t work at all!

Then I began:

Doing split scheduling like I did last year. We also started 6 weeks on and 2 weeks off, except preschool. And mostly book work.

Forget about it. With 4 kids that have dentist appointments, doctor appointments, sick days and the everyday household running, I felt like I was flying through the 6 weeks, but not accomplishing anything and rushing my kids through. I would leave out the “fun” part of homeschooling~ all the hands on stuff. And I still had a preschooler who hated school. He woke up twice and told me my school sucked and that he hated school, especially coloring. Plus with Christmas here and all the fun of that, it is hard to fit in school, fun, errands and cleaning.

So for now we are just coasting through. Working on hands on projects, finishing up books that we were reading, practicing our writing and working on Math. For Lil Man, we are making everything hands on. More learning centers, more arts and crafts, more computer and tablet time. And it has been working so far.

But beginning in 2014, we begin a whole new chapter, which the girls and I are very excited about. We are starting back to school January 6 and I will be posting more regular updates then.

Throwing out all my planning and winging it!

We are 2 weeks in to homeschooling and I haven’t found what will work for us. It is so much harder than any of those blogs, the ones that make you feel like your not doing enough, let on. I can’t seem to balance everything. So we are trying last years schedule with some adjustments and additions.

Preschool seems to be the hardest because he wants nothing to do with it or he wants all of my attention. I can’t win really. And trying to get a 4 year old to wait is impossible.

Hopefully next week I can post how everything has worked itself out and is going smoothly.

HOPEFULLY!

 

Our family grew over the summer

And no I didn’t give birth or adopt, my 18-year-old brother moved in.

This is the first time in his 18 years that we have ever lived together. By the time he was born, I was permanently living with my grandparents because it was easier that way. So we would see each other during the day and then I would leave or he would leave something. But let me tell this 24/7 thing is tough.

I mean he is a TEENAGER, for goodness sake! And a lazy one at that! For most of the summer, he sat around playing video games and not doing much of anything. But now that we gave him some chores and he is working with the hubby on jobs, it’s not so bad.

But then there was no motivation to do anything other than that. I had to keep telling him hopes and dreams don’t pay for gas in his Excursion. It took a while and there was a few arguments but he is enrolling in Culinary school and begins in a few weeks as long as financial aid comes through. Then he has a job that will hopefully start soon.

So fingers cross he is on the right path and won’t be sleeping on my couch for the next 3 years.

Here is his first day of college picture we took.

 

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