Tag Archives: family fun

Let’s Go to the Movies!

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Last weekend we ventured out for the time since March for an excursion other than a supply run or essential business. Our local drive-in movie theater received permission from Harrisburg to re-open. While movie theaters are considered high risk environments, drive-in movie theaters have been deemed safe.

Offering all the best of the movie theater experience with minimal risks, and we jumped at the chance to get out of the house and watch a movie on the big screen.

Dependable Drive-in has created a new set of policies to keep guests safe… guidelines that were handed to each guests at the entrance.

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These guidelines included an unoccupied space between each car as they opened at 1/2 capacity, mandatory masks if guests left their parking spot, the addition of touchless soap dispensers, sinks, and paper towel dispensers in the bathrooms, with a limit of two guests in the bathrooms at a time.

They were also allowing guests to bring in their own food for those hesitant to take advantage of online ordering at the concession stand.

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On opening night Dependable Drive-in was offering two movies. It was a test run for the drive-in, so rather than offering double features at their four screens, they offered a single movie at two of their screens. The choices were Trolls: World Tour or The Vast of Night (An Amazon original movie). We opted for the latter.

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Suspecting that opening night might be busy, and since they were only admitting half the capacity, we arrived at the drive-in 90 minutes before the movie began. We weren’t the only ones being proactive. As we turned off the highway exit we were greeted with a line of brake lights, as cars waited to enter the drive-in.

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When it was our turn to enter we paid the special “opening weekend” price of .50/person. For a whopping $3.00 we enjoyed a night at the movies!

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As we waited for the movie to begin, we played card games, safely tucked away in our parking spot.

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As the opening strains of the Star Spangled banner began to play, signaling the start of the movie, treats were passed out and we settled back to enjoy the show.

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A review of The Vast of Night as taken by a reader on IMDb:

“The Vast of Night is a classic tale that stays true to what makes the subgenre so appealing, while innovating and delivering fresh and interesting tactics to keep your eyes glued to the screen.

From the moment the film introduces us to one of our protagonists, we are greeted to an amazing long-take tracking shot that would make Iñárritu (ala Birdman) jealous. These beautiful tracking shots persist throughout the film, including one where we are quickly transported through the quiet small town setting seamlessly into the busy action of the high-school basketball game. These shots are also complimented by long takes that have almost no obvious movement at all, save for maybe a methodical zoom towards the character as they deliver a captivating monologue. In fact, there are moments where there are no visuals at all but simply a black screen allowing us to focus entirely on what is being told.

Dialogue and performances are also a highlight. The slick and smooth conversation starts immediately as we are introduced to our characters, helping transport us easily into the 1950s. This is assisted by the spectacular performances that never let up. Whether it be a tense monologue, fast-paced banter, or fervent arguing, every emotion feels real.

As for screenplay, the film plays out in real-time which let’s us hang on every lasting feeling of mystery and suspense. The Vast of Night masterfully balances both hiding and teasing us with aspects of a reveal that do enough to terrify and excite, leading up to a simply beautiful payoff that feels as rewarding as it is earned.”

Some enjoyed it more than others. It definitely had a more creative and artistic filming style that lent to a Alfred Hitchcock or Twilight Zone vibe. The suspense was built through interesting camera angles and movie soundtrack. I loved it and found the movie charming and engaging, but some of my kids found it lacking in special effects and action scenes. Regardless of the mixed reviews, we all enjoyed a night out of the house after months in lockdown!

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“May the Fourth be with you”

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Our second themed dinner took place on May 4th.

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Embracing our inner Jedi, we planned a “May the Fourth be with You” dinner.

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After a few hard days we were  in need of some light hearted fun. Grace and I took the lead for this family fun night since the boys were busy with school and Toby, Zach and Molly were back at work.

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The dinner preparations began with the menu. Relying on Pinterest for inspiration, we came up with an easy menu, using food already on hand, and molded it to our theme using catchy names.

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Once the menu was decided we started on decorations…

Grace used her artistic talents to turn leftover gold plates into C-3PO,

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And we rolled green napkins into lightsabers.

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We also created lightsabers for each guest using water cannons and duct tape. Our original plan was to have a water gun fight after dinner using the “lightsabers,” but cold temperatures and biting wind changed our minds. We decided to save that fun for another day.

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When the work crew was nearing home, Grace and I began getting dinner ready. By the time they walked through the door the Hans-burgers were grilled,

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The Yoda Soda was poured,

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And we were ready for our “May the Fourth be with You” party.

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Our efforts were appreciated and everyone enjoyed our Jedi dinner.

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We ended the evening by watching the first three episodes of Star Wars: The Mandalorian on Disney+.

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Incredible!

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Saturday was a celebration of Toby’s 43rd trip around the sun. Saturday was also our final morning at Girls Camp, so following a crazy morning of cleaning, packing, loading cars and transporting ourselves and other girls’ gear back to the church, it was time to switch hats from “level leader” to “wife” and create some birthday magic.

This was a tall order given our sleep-deprived state, but we tapped deep, took a long nap upon returning home, and by 4:00 were ready to celebrate Toby’s big day with some birthday fun.

We decided this year’s birthday celebration would take place at the drive-in movie theater.

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So following dinner we drove to Moon Township’s Dependable Drive-in to enjoy a double feature.

Toby brought along two of his birthday gifts…

his new reclining camp chair and foldable side table,

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two gifts that were purchased with next week’s Scout Camp in mind but were equally ideal for a night at the drive-in.

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It was so much fun having the entire family together after a week apart, and wonderful to get to celebrate Toby and all that he does for our family.

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After the national anthem played everyone settled into their seats for our double feature.

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The first movie on the docket was “The Incredibles 2” which began playing when the sun went down at 9:00 pm. In addition to this being a much anticipated sequel for our family, the more fitting reason for picking this particular show revolved around the fact that we were celebrating the birthday of the real “Mr. Incredible”

Being married to Toby has taught me that not all superheroes wear capes.

PS- it really was INCREDIBLE!

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Between the showing of the first film and the second  we had a 20 minute break and pulled out Toby’s “birthday cake,” a strawberry pie to enjoy before the second movie began.

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The second movie shown was “Ocean’s 8.” Being  big fans of the previous Ocean movies, we were looking forward to this new addition to the Ocean family, and while not quite as good as the originals, we still really enjoyed it. It was fun having an all female cast string us through an exciting, well-developed plot.

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At 1:00 am the second movie rolled its credits and we discovered half our crew had long since fallen asleep. After a long week of Toby playing Mr. Mom and the girls and I away at camp, we were all exhausted.

It was time for bed!

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Incredible.

Thanks for being so SUPER!

Life’s a Circus

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Sometimes I fantasize about running away and joining the circus. This is one of those fantasies I closely guard, hesitant to openly admit that this responsible, straight-laced, mother of five secretly dreams of dropping all responsibilities for a sequined tutu and a life on the road.

I’m not sure what the appeal is…

I mean I love the idea of being so unencumbered by stuff that all my earthly possessions could fit in a small camper.

I love the idea of picking up and moving every few days, seeing the country one small town at a time.

I love the thought of being a “magic-maker” and taking families away from the worries of everyday life for a few hours into a world of mermaids, and clowns, and flying fairies.

I love the idea of being able to transform into a different persona every evening and play pretend in glitter and toile…

I am destroying all your preconceived notions of me, aren’t I? 🙂

But since I haven’t a sliver of talent to support this secret fantasy, I must settle for soaking up the magic of the circus from the spectator seats and watch others soar in center ring.

Two weeks ago, while at work, Grace was approached by a person asking if they could hang up a flyer at her place of business. Grace apologized and explained that she wasn’t allowed to approve postings. The passerby graciously accepted “no” and then kindly offered Grace 4 free tickets to the circus he was advertising.

The circus had come to town!

But this was no ordinary circus. This was Cirque Italia: The Water Circus, and the tickets were for Thursday night. Grace came home, eager to share the good news. Unfortunately Grace has a Thursday evening class so she wasn’t able to take advantage of the free tickets but she graciously handed them over to the rest of us and told us to have a fun night out.

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On Thursday evening we had dinner and then left the house by 6:30 pm so as to arrive in plenty of time for the 7:30 show. The circus had pitched their tent at our local mall and I wasn’t sure what to expect. My thought was regardless of the level of talent and showmanship it was a free, fun, family night and I knew Tyler would enjoy it.

We pulled into the mall entrance to discover the parking lot transformed with trailers and tents. The big top rose high above the parked cars and the marquee was lit up, beckoning visitors to come on in. What was a crowded, ugly parking lot days earlier had been transformed into a magical world of clowns, strong men, and sky dancers.

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We walked up to the ticket booth to purchase a child’s ticket for Tyler and became aware of what a gift these free admission tickets were, normally costing $40.00/adult.

It was here we also noticed the signage restricting photography and videography within the tent. Bummer! So, after a quick photo outside and the camera stowed away in the car, we went in and found our seats.

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This circus didn’t have the traditional animal acts one might associate with the circus, and the smaller tent made acts like the high wire and traditional trapeze acts logistically impossible, but what they lacked in traditional acts they more than made up for with amazing acts of skill and daring, all within the unique setting of a cascading waterfall surrounding the stage. This cascading water was then illuminated with lights and lasers, creating pictures and patters in the air as the light bounced off the water droplets.

Everyone had different favorite acts from the show. Below are some images taken from Google images, showing some of the awesome acts we enjoyed during our evening at the Water Circus:

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But Tyler and I shared a favorite. It wasn’t a single act that enamored us, but rather two particular characters. We LOVED the two clowns that emceed the evening. They would come out between acts to keep the show going and distract from the stage while the stage was being set up for the next act. All I can say is their comedic timing was spot on and I could have watched them all evening. I don’t know when I have laughed so hard…partly because of the antics on stage and partly because of the infectious giggles of Tyler rolling with laughter at the 3 Stooges-esque silliness occurring in front of us.

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It was such a fun evening, made all the more magical by the unexpected, impromptu nature of it falling into our laps.

It was an awesome night at the circus!

 

R*E*S*P*E*C*T

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Monday night was family night and all week I felt directed to touch on a particular topic, so after dinner was cleaned up and dishes were put away I gathered the troops in the dining room and introduced the theme for the evening with a little song and dance number to this classic ditty:

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Family Night occurs weekly at our home. This weekly activity is set aside for a certain night and cleared from all other commitments and activities. It is dedicated to the care and keeping of our family. This is the time we counsel as a family and discuss upcoming events, coordinate schedules, touch on chores and finances, get input for the week’s menu, have an open forum to discuss any struggles or issues anyone needs to discuss, as well as discuss any changes happening in the family.

For example this week we began implementing a new chore/allowance system. We are giving this new system a trial run to see how we like it and see if it is an effective long term system for our family.

Allowance/chore payments is something I have vacillated back and forth on over the years. There is a part of me that feels strongly that chores are simply an element of being part of a family and payment to live in a home. The struggle with this train of thought came as the kids got older and we felt it important to teach our children the importance of money management, of saving, and tithing. They had to have an “income” to learn these money skills and put them to practice. Our solution in the end and the answer we have hung our hat on these last few years is to give the kids a set allowance  weekly that they split into 3 piles: save, spend, tithe, while still expecting a set of chores to be done daily, unconnected to the allowance. There are two income brackets in our home based on age, with the older kids receiving one allowance amount and the younger boys receiving another.

But recent discussions with the older kids made me realize that we have outgrown the old system and need to allow for more independence, accountability, and opportunity for reaping the rewards of effort and hard work, because our current system is a bit socialist in its foundation allowing equal pay for all while some are clearly putting forth a much greater effort. As any failing communist nation can tell you, this system does not lead to ambitious, hard working, self-motivated citizens. Why put forth more effort while your lazy comrade is reaping all the same benefits with none of the sweat.

I also see a desire in my older kids to have opportunities to earn money now that their needs and wants exceed their set allowance. For the kids too young to get a job outside the home this system gives them opportunities to increase their cash flow if they are willing to work for it.

And I won’t lie…it also results in eager and willing workers who are motivated to tackle chores that have fallen to the wayside or that I would love to pawn off on someone else when my days get busy…for a small price.

So here is the system we are going to try out for a while:

  1.  Each child still has set daily chores that they are responsible for every morning. They are the chores they have been doing all along and will continue to do for the simple privilege of living in this house and for being a member of this family.
  2. Allowances will no longer be given.
  3. Instead there will be a set of envelopes put out each week with household chores that need to be done with the payment for that job inside the envelope. The jobs vary in difficulty with simple chores like “replace the TP in the bathrooms” and “windex the bathroom mirrors” to bigger jobs like “cleaning out a closet” or “organizing a bookshelf.” The payment for each job is reflective of the difficulty of the task and range from .25 to $1.00. With $5.00 being paid for an entire room cleaning (ceiling to floor cleaning and picking up).
  4. And each job’s payment is dependent on that job passing Mom’s inspection.

It has been a week and so far the initiative is impressive and my home is cleaner than it has been in a long time. The kids are thrilled and race for the board when new chores are added, and I feel like some of the stresses that have been hanging over my head have lightened. We will see if this new system has “staying power” but so far I’m finding it to be a success.

Then when we are done with the family management portion of Family Night the fun part of the evening begins.

Sometimes we do something seasonal for family night, like go to see Christmas lights or carve pumpkins. Sometimes we do something solely recreational. But most often the evening consists of a lesson, activity, and special treat with family members taking turns being in charge of these different parts of family night.

This past Monday I coordinated my lesson with Rusty who was in charge of our fun family activity. The evening began with my lesson on RESPECT. I chose this topic after noticing a struggle with it in one particular child, but also felt it was a good reminder for ALL of us.

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So after my dynamic introduction of the topic, and my killer Aretha Franklin impersonation, (Thank goodness my children were all to stunned by the show to think to pull out their devices and record my performance) we began the lesson with this question:

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 The best definition I found was this printout which broke down the basics of respect in an easy to understand way:

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This became the foundation of our lesson. We went through each point, discussed what it meant, and talked about how we could strengthen that point in ourselves and in our family. It led to a powerful and much needed discussion that forced all of us to hold up a mirror and reflect on how we can each be more respectful in our own lives.

Our lesson led into the next part of our evening…the activity. The activity that Rusty had prepared allowed us to apply what we had learned about respect, as it was a team challenge that required us to work together, take turns, and listen when someone else spoke. You see we had to work well together or we wouldn’t escape in time. We had 60 minutes.

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After a incredible experience at an Escape Room in Kansas City last October we knew we wanted to do it again as a family. Unfortunately the budget doesn’t allow for a family of seven to do this very often so when I saw this Escape Room board game for sale before Christmas I knew it would be a perfect gift for Toby. Last night we played it for the first time and it was killer!

(It really was…Yes, we died.)

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The game follows a very similar outline to the Escape Room experiences that are so popular. In the game box were four different escape room challenges of varying difficulty. We chose the escape challenge called “The Virus.” All the envelopes for this challenge were laid out on the table, along with the lock box that had to be unlocked before the count down clock on the box reached 00:00.

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The game began with one teammate read the outside of the envelope that told the story behind the challenge and gave the instructions needed to start the challenge. In this case we were scientists in a laboratory working on a secretive and much sought after virus. The flask breaks. We are stuck in the room with the spreading virus and have 60 minutes to figure out the code that unlocks the lock box containing the antidote.

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The game began when we pressed the red button,starting the one hour escape timer.

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Then we opened the first of three envelopes. Each envelope contained clues, mind benders, and puzzles needed to figure out the first set of four numbers that gave us access to the next envelope of clues.

For added support there were clue cards that were opened when the timer reached set times that helped keep us moving forward in the game.

The board game had the exact same adrenaline filled excitement and team building power as the Escape Room challenge we enjoyed in Kansas City. The games were challenging and well thought out and the entire experience was a lot of fun!

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In the end we missed the deadline by minutes, meaning that in the end…

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Yes, it seems a bit morbid but it was one of the best family fun nights we have had in a long time,

And I think we all gained a little more R*E*S*P*E*C*T for each other’s problem solving escape room skills!

Once a Month Cooking…Let’s give it a try.

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When it comes to crossing things off my “to do” list I have found I am best at big event planning, you know

holidays, trips, parties and classes, traditions, special occasions and simple celebrations.

And while planning a holiday party or putting together a child’s birthday party is easy breezy for me, the every day tasks are not. Unfortunately it is those everyday tasks that make up the majority of our lives.I think this is why I depend on schedules and routines. Without a schedule to direct me through my day I find myself wandering, overwhelmed by the many tasks that lay before me, uncertain of where to begin.

I love “one time events” because they can be crossed off the “to do” list and then you don’t have to think about them anymore.

– host Christmas party….check! Done.

It is the never-ending, daily tasks, those things that can never truly be completed, and reappear daily on my “to do” list, that leave me weary and resentful.

Nothing makes me want to cry more than walking past the laundry basket, minutes after I’ve folded and put away the last load of dirty laundry, and seeing a newly deposited pair of dirty socks taunting me from the bottom of the basket.

Or shutting off the light in my clean kitchen after washing dishes, sweeping the floor, and shining the sink, only to have a teenager pass by me with a dirty ice cream bowl in hand. All I want is ONE morning where I wake to an empty sink…Ahhh!

And then there are meals…

I feel like the majority of my life is spent planning meals, shopping for food, putting away food, preparing meals, and then cleaning them up.

Just imagine the time I would have on my hands if nobody wanted fed,

and it doesn’t matter how much I feed the troops, they always want to eat again when the next mealtime rolls around. 😛

I try to remind myself daily of the great blessings associated with these daily chores:

How blessed we are to have the means to feed our children daily and tuck them into bed with full bellies.

How blessed I am to have a sink full of dirty dishes because it means everyone was fed.

How blessed I am to have a washer and drier in my home to wash those dirty clothes made by kids making childhood memories.

I know my ancestors would roll their eyes at my whining,

as they recall laundry taking all day to wash, done on the shores of a creek…

which is why I try to keep my grumbling to a minimum.

I know a day will come when I miss the fingerprints on the window and the mess of Legos on the living room floor.

As Thomas S. Monson said:

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But even with that realization I can’t help but always be seeking an easier, more efficient way to tackle those never ending, daily tasks, so I can move on to the tasks I can actually cross of the “to do” list. 🙂

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With the start of school and nightly football practices I have been searching out a better way to handle dinner preparations. Our evenings are full and I would love to spend more time sitting around the table eating with my family than fixing meals and eating it in a rush to get boys into bed on time.

As I was cleaning out my recipe book cabinet I came across a recipe book given to me years ago by a friend. She was in a season of life in which this book was a great blessing to her and she wanted to share this helpful tool. At the time I wasn’t in a season of life where I needed that time saving tool. I was home all day with little ones so I couldn’t relate to her time pressures,

but I took it gratefully

knowing someday it would be a blessing for me too.

That season has arrived and when I came across it in my cabinet I had a “Eureka” moment.

The book is:

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And the premise is simple…

Devote a day to planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning up dinner and have meals for a month.

Rather than going through those steps daily you make it a big one time event for the month.

This REALLY appealed to my love of big event planning

and the best part:

At the end of the day I could actually mark “Make Dinner” off my “to do” list for the month!

Having never tried this before I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but having done it once I am sold. Not that I won’t allow for the flexibility of an impromptu menu change if I suddenly have the urge to cook, but how nice that I don’t have the dreaded “What’s for dinner?” question hanging over my head all day.

Having done it once and seeing the fruits of that labor, I can see how it would be a great solution for busy moms, single moms or working moms.

The process for making two weeks worth of meals to put in the freezer took us 3 hours. (Next round I’m going to try a month’s worth.)

The cookbook is broken up into sections based on the protein used in those dishes. There are a few chicken sections, beef, ground beef, turkey, pork, salmon, tuna, and vegetarian dishes.

I picked a chicken section and a ground beef section of recipes for our first time attempting this.

We began with grocery shopping. The beginning of each chapter of recipes has a shopping list printed out, already organized by sections of the grocery store, to make for easier shopping.

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We came home, laid out all the groceries on the counter and turned to the next page in the book that listed all the advanced prep work needed. It is in this section you find out what meat needs precooked, which pasta needs preboiled, and what vegetables need to be chopped and sliced.

The kids were HUGE helps with this process and it became a fun family project as we worked together.

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After the prep work was done we began assembling individual dishes. It was so easy since all the prep work was done.

Then each kid picked a recipe from that section of the cookbook to be in charge of. That completed recipe then became their dinner night meal that they would have been responsible for on their individual nights. Now they only have to warm it up and choose their side dishes when their dinner night rolls around.

During the next few hours we assembled 12 dinners. Each dinner was placed in a freezer bag or casserole dish, labeled with the date and cooking instructions and placed in the freezer. If additional ingredients were needed, like shredded cheese, we placed it in a smaller freezer bag and stapled it to the dinner bag.

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It was a lovely thing watching the freezer fill with completed meals. 🙂

I also gave Molly the job of assembling salads for the week.

All over Pinterest you can find “salads in a jar.” It is the latest fad as you can see in this tongue-in-cheek definition of Pinterest:

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It is a clever idea. You layer the ingredients of a salad in a large mouth mason jar, beginning with the dressing, meats and cheese, vegetables and top the jar off with lettuce or spinach. The result is fresh salad all week with none of the hassle of daily chopping.

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Molly was in charge of making 10 salads in a jar.

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By the time our cooking session ended we had 10 jars of salad and the following dinners in the freezer:

Cheese and Chicken Shells

Artichoke Chicken Bake

Chicken Mushroom Rolls

Spiced Chicken Sandwiches

Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Broccoli Noodles

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Meatballs and Sauce

Beef Loaf

Pizza Burgers

Macaroni and Beef

Tortilla Casserole

Not bad!

Next time I think I’m going to try out some crock pot freezer meals that can be dumped straight into your crock pot in the morning and cook all day.

Since I must accept the fact that my family will continue to expect meals on a regular basis, regardless of my reminders that they just ate at the last meal, this seems like this is a good solution.

It is either this or a family 30 day fast.

Hmmm, I wonder….

😉

Flick and Float

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Last night we celebrated Christmas in July at our local pool.

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It was one of three “Flick and Float” nights our pool offers during the summer months.

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Once a month they close the pool early to the public and offer (by reservation only) free of charge, a movie night at the pool. It is called “Flick and Float” because the staff fill the pool with big float toys to lounge on while you watch the movie that plays poolside.

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We went last year and the kids enjoyed it so much they requested that we add it to our summer bucket list once again.

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The theme for July’s “Flick and Float” was

Christmas in July.

Tyler had football practice so Toby took him to practice and then they joined us for the last hour of the movie.

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The first 30 minutes was free swim while they waited on the sky to darken enough to play the outdoor movie.

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The kids loved all the fun float toys.

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The temperature was just warm enough to make swimming in the unheated pool bearable and as the sun went down the water actually felt warm in comparison to the air temperature.

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It was only getting out of the pool that was painful…Brrr!

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For Christmas in July they showed classic Christmas films like Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

It was so much fun to float under the bright summer stars, watching movies in our swimsuits, that are usually reserved for cold, dark, winter nights.

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It was a fun, fabulous, free, family activity!

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Thank you, Ellwood City Pool!

Kalahari Adventure

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How blessed I am…my heart overfloweth!

 Woo hoo…Kalahari time! For the past three years we have had the opportunity to join a group of friends for an amazing getaway at Kalahari Indoor Water Park. A former co-op mom organizes the getaway for her church each year and we are able to tag along and enjoy the group discount. It is something the kids look forward to each year and this year was no exception.  The kids began planning and preparing for it weeks beforehand, knowing the fun that was in store. Ozzie, who had never been there before, could only dream of the fun that awaited him.
On Tuesday morning we left after breakfast to drive the 2 1/2 hours to Sandusky, Ohio where the resort is located. When we arrived Ozzie was in awe of the lobby and all there was to look at. It is a beautiful resort that makes you feel as though you have stepped into another world. The kids looked around the lobby, as Toby checked us in, and they could be heard squealing with delight when they saw a six-week-old lion cub that was sleeping in the hotel lobby.

We arrive for 2 days of fun!

We arrive for 2 days of fun!

After checking in we headed to our rooms…yes, plural. We have finally outgrown a single hotel room. It is funny as we look back on our last three years of visiting Kalahari…year 1 we came with 5 people, year 2 we grew to 6, and this year we were a family of 7. This growth required a boys’ room and a girls’ room and yes I definitely got the better end of that deal. Poor Toby 🙂

Girls' room!!

Girls’ room!!

After checking out our rooms (the little boys were amazed by the peep holes in the door) and changing into our swimsuits we headed down to the water park. It was so nice to have the water park in the hotel itself because we could just walk through the hotel in our swimsuits without having to change in the locker rooms. Here the boys wait in the hallway for their sisters to finish changing.

I don't think Ozzie appreciates being used as an arm rest. :)

I don’t think Ozzie appreciated being used as an arm rest. 🙂

Once we arrived downstairs we found our spot with the other co-op families and the fun began. The girls spent most of their day riding with friends and occasionally checking in while Toby and I took turns walking the boys around. Toby and Tyler rode all of the big water slides together while my two more cautious boys enjoyed the water play area, hot tub, lazy river and wave pool with their less daring Momma.

Toby riding one of the more adventurous slides.

Toby riding one of the more adventurous slides.

Waiting for the water to fall at the water play area.

Waiting for the water to fall at the water play area.

The girls checking in for a moment before running off again.

The girls checking in for a moment before running off again.

After swimming all day we met up with our friends in a quiet corner lobby for a pizza party. We ordered 13 pizzas and the moms brought salad, drinks, fruit, chips and treats to share with the group. The kids had a blast eating and playing games with their friends while the adults visited.

Pizza for 35!

Pizza for 35!

The kids used the unused luggage carts for tables.

The kids used the unused luggage carts for tables.

We headed back upstairs around 9:30 pm to get ready for bed. All the kids were worn out after a full day of swimming and climbing the stairs up to the water slides. The little boys climbed in bed right away but struggled to fall asleep due to an impressive thunderstorm raging outside. The girls in my room, however, had no problems falling asleep and lights were out soon after 10:00pm.

In the morning we joined up with some of the other families for breakfast at Steak n’ Shake restaurant before heading back to the water park for a full day of play.

Breakfast at Steak n' Shake.

Breakfast at Steak n’ Shake.

Ozzie enjoying breakfast.

Ozzie enjoying breakfast.

Day two was spent enjoying all the fun things that were tried on day one as well as braving some new water activities. Ozzie decided to try surfing and did amazingly well considering how small and lightweight he is.

Surfing Oz

Surfing Oz

 One ride ALL the boys enjoyed was The Cheetah Racers. The boys loved being able to race each other down the slides and spent a good deal of their day doing just that.

Tyler won that round...

Tyler won that round…

The boys :)

The boys  🙂

We stayed until dinner, enjoying our vacation as long as we could, before we had to head home and face the reality of school, appointments, and work the following day. It was a wonderful escape from reality for a couple of days as well as an opportunity to bond and create magical memories with our newest son.

The girls enjoying the water slide they renamed "The Toilet Bowl."

The girls enjoying the water slide that they renamed “The Toilet Bowl.”

Kalahari, we had a GREAT time!! See you next year!

Kalahari, we had a GREAT time!! See you next year!

Happy Halloween!

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Molly and Gracie's booth

Molly and Gracie’s booth

This past week has been full of all sorts of fun Halloween activities..Here is a quick overview of what we have been up to…

Last Saturday the girls were hired to work a booth at a local township’s fall festival. They were asked to run the face painting booth. The girls were thrilled and then they found out that they were even going to be paid which was just icing on the cake. They began preparing a few days before the event by deciding what pictures they wanted to offer as options and then made a poster displaying the choices. The day of the fair was windy and very cold but even the blustery fall day didn’t keep people away and the girls were steadily busy for the entire two hours.

Gracie doing her thing!

Gracie doing her thing!

Monday night, for family night, we carved pumpkins. Toby brought home Little Caesar’s Pizza for dinner and we had a pizza party while we carved. It was funny to see how each of the kids approached the carving of their pumpkins. Tyler jumped in right away with no plan and just started carving, Grace and Rusty knew what they wanted to do and began by first sketching their design on the pumpkins, and Molly, who didn’t know what she wanted to do, went to the internet for ideas and inspiration.

Tyler scooping out pumpkin guts :)

Tyler scooping out pumpkin guts 🙂

Molly looking for ideas..

Molly looking for ideas..

These were their finished creations…

Tyler's jack o lantern

Tyler’s jack o lantern

Gracie's Cinderella carriage with the prince and Cinderella kissing

Gracie’s Cinderella carriage with the prince and Cinderella kissing

Molly carved a big pumpkin eating a small pumpkin.

Molly carved a big pumpkin eating a small pumpkin.

Rusty, dressed as Steve, with his creeper pumpkin.

Rusty, dressed as Steve, with his creeper pumpkin.

On Wednesday we had our co-op Halloween party. The first three hours of co-op were our typical classes but then at noon the real fun began. For lunch there were walking tacos and other treats. After lunch the kids were broken into groups and rotated through different activities that were being run by the moms. There was a Halloween craft, a photo booth, games and Halloween bingo. The kids had a lot of fun and the moms who planned the party did a great job! The party ended with the kids trick or treating to the moms and getting a sack of loot to take home.

Rusty the ninja.

Rusty the ninja.

Molly the safari guide.

Molly the safari guide.

Miss Molly

Miss Molly

Gracie went as a Pop Art.

Gracie went as a Pop Art.

Miss Gracie

Miss Gracie

Tyler the dragon.

Tyler the dragon.

Walking tacos!

Walking tacos!

Molly and two of her best buddies.

Molly and two of her best buddies.

Tyler playing the donut game :)

Tyler playing the donut game 🙂

On Thursday night we had an early dinner and then the kids got ready to go trick or treating. The kids wore the same costumes that they had worn for the co-op party except Tyler who decided to wear Rusty’s old Scooby Doo costume. It was a rainy night for trick or treating but at least it wasn’t too cold. We trick or treated for two hours and then ended the night by visiting the local gas station where they hand out goody bags to the kids and free hot cocoa. Stopping for hot cocoa is a family tradition and the kids’ favorite part of trick or treating!

Ready for trick or treating.

Ready for trick or treating.

We we got home the kids dumped out their candy on the floor where they began the fun part of splitting and bartering the goods. It was another wonderful Halloween season 🙂

Decisions..decisions...

Decisions..decisions…

Happy Halloween!

The loot!

The loot!