Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pumpkin Painting

In my last post I mentioned we went to a Pumpkin Patch and picked out some pumpkins.  Once we had those in our possession the boys barely let me rest until we decorated them. 
I set them up on the front porch with some paints and they got busy.  The neighbor kids were even around to watch and share their opinions.
Since I didn't have enough pumpkins for everyone, I gave the neighbor kids some construction paper to paint on.  They thought that was just as fun.

Alex all done with his - stems and all!

Ajay working diligently on his. 
 Unfortunately, we used water based paint and when it rained a week later we lost a lot of the designs.  You can still see some, though, and the boys aren't upset. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Did you know? (pssspsspss-Pandora-psspsss-Halloween-pssspsspsss!)

Did you know Pandora has a Halloween Party Radio station?? 

We discovered this a week or so back and have been enjoying it daily.  

Go check it out!  It will make your Halloween feel all festive and what-not! 

Pumpkin Patch 2013

Waaa-hoo!  I love fall!  The colors of the beeeyoootiful trees, the crispness in the air, partly cloudy days mixed with bright and sunny ones, soups, the decorations on houses that scream "Fall is HERE!" -- all that and more!

One signal of Fall's arrival is a trip to a pumpkin patch!  This year we went with our local Parents as Teachers group.  Unfortunately, Ajay didn't get to go with us since he was in school but since Alex only has half day Kindergarten he was able to go.

Waiting for our turn

A fun - huge - spider decoration
 
Finally on the trailers going out to the pumpkins.  The sun was too bright for Aren :)
There were 5 trailers attached to the tractor so the whole group could go out at once.

Time to find just the right ones!  They each got a medium sized pumpkin and a little one.  I chose a couple to bring home for Ajay.

After we were done picking out the pumpkins we had to wait for the tractor to come back.  The boys found some caterpillars to keep them company.

Aren ended up with one on his shirt!

Riding back, showing off our prizes!


There were some great inflatables for the kids to play on.  Here, Alex is giving Aren a hand up and over.

Alex helping Aren, again.  Going up the "ladder" to a big slide.

Yay!  They made it to the top without falling!

Aren liked it so much he ran back around to climb up again.  This time he felt more comfortable going on his own.

This one was a LOT bigger.  Alex went up/down a few times but Aren never did make it to the top of this one.

There were some fun tricycles to ride around the track. Aren needed a bit of help since his feet couldn't reach the pedals.

This row of trikes was adult sized!  And yes, I DID go for a ride around!  It was quite fun :)

Right before we left Alex wanted to crawl through the pipes.  They were made of concrete so he had to be careful not to bonk his head.
Alex even got to go to a second patch a week or two after this visit.  His kindergarten class took a field trip to one.  The way he described it, it was just as much fun - or even more!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mealtime

Here is one of the meals we had during Vegan Month.  It was one of my favorites!  Mac 'n' Cheese (veganinzed, of course), home made bread, maple roasted brussel sprouts, quinoa hickory burgers.  I have made the burgers several times since and am going to make them again very soon.  My Vegan/Vegetarian Board on Pinterest has the recipes.

One afternoon the boys called to us saying there was a huge bug - or something - outside.  Normally, we aren't too interested in the many bugs they see but we went out because they were really making a big deal of it.  As I watched it I thought how much it looked like a Hummingbird.  I started to wonder if it really was a Hummingbird, even though it didn't "startle" off when we got near.  In fact, it circled us a few times between flowers.  And it let me get really close for a few photos.  It was beautiful!  It turned out to be a moth.  Hummingbird Moth/Sphynx Moth/Hawk Moth, etc.  If you have tomato plants you've probably seen hornworms - That's what these are in their caterpillar stage.  Here, read about them yourself!

Friday, October 25, 2013

The State Fair!

Alex has been asking about the State Fair since the day after we went last year.  I'm not exaggerating when I say he asked about it once or twice every month for the last 12 months! 

We were in countdown mode a little over a week out.  Alex would come to breakfast and announce how many days were left until we got to go to the fair.

Finally it was time to go!  We loaded up some snacks and packed a lunch and started driving.  The whole day was certainly not disappointing!

One of our first stops was to visit the animals.  We only made it to see the bunnies and many different birds, we never did get around to seeing the pigs, sheep and other big animals.

The rides were calling out to the boys so we quickly traded our pre-purchased ticket receipt for actual ride tickets.

Daddy's shoulders always offer the best views.

Ajay and Alex tried this min-roller coaster first.  We quickly realized they had outgrown this particular ride.

Despite his "less than thrilled" expression Aren loved this ride and kept asking for more.

Biju and the boys braved this ride together.  The whole thing spun in a big circle and you could spin your little pod as well. 

After our lunch break the boys went to see some of the cool equipment that was set out.  This was a pump.  The boys were able to pump the handle and see the water come pouring out into the big barrel.

On this one, the farmer (or a kid) put a dried cob of corn in one end, the boys cranked the wheel and saw the corn kernels fall into a bucket beneath the contraption, then the empty cob popped out the other side.  You can see an empty cob in Ajay's hand.  (I tried to upload a short video clip of Alex taking a turn but Blogger wasn't playing nicely.)

 
This ride is always a favorite.  Shoot up into the air then come down a bit and then shoot back up again and again.


This ride was incredibly tall.  After Biju rode it he almost had me convinced to try it out but I just couldn't bring myself to get on.  I'm a bit of a chicken.

Right before we left we took some time to watch this guy.  He's a chainsaw artist.  We had a great front seat.  As soon as he started, though, the wind blew the sawdust straight into our faces and we quickly moved to the back. 

On our way to the car we stopped to grab the boys a funnel cake.  It was the only food we purchased  that day (unless you count the honey sticks - which are not vegan, by the way).  We drove home and let the boys eat it at the table.  We did this last year, too.  We've decided that next year we're going to buy the treat before we're headed to the car because it just doesn't taste right after it's gone on an hour long ride.  Next year the boys will get to indulge in a FRESH funnel cake!!
And yes, we will be going back next year!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Birthday Girl!

In the first week of September my niece, Kyleigh, turned 7!


My sister invited us over to help celebrate this vivacious girl.


We had a great time!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Trains!

Aren has been on a train kick the past few months.  Anything with wheels, really, makes him happy, but trains are his go-to toys.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

September - Vegan Month

September turned out to be a hard month for our Vegan Challenge.  Of course, any time you choose to drastically change your diet is going to be a hard time, right?

We happened to have two birthday parties right off the bat and we knew we would be going to the State Fair, plus our church was having it's big festival at the end of the month.  AND - Subway was having it's famous $5 Footlong deal.  But we did the best we could. 

We got started two days later than we had planned because we still had food in the fridge and freezer to finish off.  We had already cleared our our cabinets and Lazy Susan of anything non-vegan.  We went shopping for new ingredients and looked up recipes.  I found some great ones online (thank you, Pinterest) and even a few in a book by Chef Chloe I had checked out from the library.

I also remembered that our good friends had switched to a vegan diet about 6-7 months ago.  Angie became a great resource for me and I asked her a lot of questions. 

We allowed the boys to go ahead and eat the cake and ice cream at the birthday parties.  There were a few other "cheats" along the way, too, but overall I think it was a great challenge to undertake.

Bunco night was particularly hard on me.  I failed to eat before going and I knew that would mean making a big decision.  Do I skip dinner entirely?  Do I try to scrape off any meat and cheese that may be served?  In the end I ate what was offered and that actually threw me off for 4 days afterwards!  I'm just glad I eventually got back into "the zone."

You might be wondering why we chose to do this.  Over the last 5+ years we've been watching some great documentaries (most recently "Vegucated" where 3 omnivores took a 6 week vegan challenge) and doing more research into healthier options.  We figured we already do a lot of meatless meals why not take it a step further? 

As previously mentioned, I have found some fabulous recipes.  Now that the "challenge" is over I am still eating basically the same as I did throughout September.  I might take a nibble from Biju and the boys' dinner but I stick mainly to my own dishes.  Sometimes it seems like "leftover night" is every night around here.  We make up a few different meals at once and then we can all take our pick of what we want over the next few days.

Are you wondering what type of results we got from this diet?  I noticed a bit more energy and if I happened to overeat a vegan meal I still didn't feel miserable afterwards.

Biju lost about 6 lbs. and I lost almost 10.  I can't say it was specifically because of the vegan diet that I lost that amount but it was the catapult.  I was being extremely careful not to overdo it on bread and pasta.  I had either steel cut oats for breakfast or a smoothie and I didn't eat anything once dinner was over.  Plus, I aimed to work out 2-3x each week.  I know, not much, but it was more than I was doing previously.

I'm hoping to stay on this path for quite awhile.  Mostly vegan/vegetarian with the occasional non-guilty bite of meat thrown in.  It seems to work for me!

I'll share more results as we go along.  And if you want to know my favorite recipes, just ask - I'll be glad to share!

I had a big baking day a couple of weeks back.  Top left - Granola Bars (which were actually no-bake), then bread crumbs set out to dry for a recipe, tortillas, two loaves of bread + rolls, hamburger buns and finally, banana muffins. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Health boost!

We all can do with a little health boost, am I right?  Lately we've been trying to take a step or two towards better health.
We bought this VitaMix (super-blender, amazing speed) and it has led to even more smoothies than we usual. 

Getting ready to blend up some coconut chutney!
Breakfast smoothie in the makes.
Our poor Magic Bullet has worked hard for us the last 5+ years and it was starting to show.  The motor is still fine but many of the cups were missing their little tabs that are key to making the blender work.  We still can use it but just not as much.

Our tomato plants that Biju's dad planted in the spring have been very prosperous.  We're loving the fresh tomatoes and have even had the ability to share some with neighbors.

The tomato plants as they were starting to grow their fruit.

Aren with the tomatoes.

Aren amongst other greenery.
At the end of August we started getting prepared for a month long challenge.  We had decided to make September "Vegan Month."  We wanted to see how what would happen if we stopped eating meat, dairy and eggs.  We stocked up on a few necessities to make our month go smoothly.
Lentils, chia seeds, flax seeds, quinoa, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, almonds for almond milk, tomatoes from our garden, etc.
I'll be sure to write up a post or two about how our challenge month went.

Here was a smoothie taste test - one of the first times we had ever used kale.  Did we like it??

Yes, we did! 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Final summer sleepover!

The boys enjoyed a couple of sleepovers during the summer and they begged to have a final round before school started. 
Alex went over to one house while two other boys came to ours.  The boys live in our neighborhood so it made it easy to get parental permission and pack overnight bags.  Sometimes the boys don't' even pack bags.  They take showers at their own house, put their jammies on and then come over.  In the mornings they just walk back home to brush their teeth and get dressed.
The next morning at breakfast time!  Alex and Eli woke up and ran back over to our house before they ate breakfast so all the boys got to eat together.
 Before the boys left our house they took advantage of the cool morning temperatures and went out to play.
The family down the street bought a pogo stick from a garage sale - and it seems our children are on it more than theirs!

They were very helpful when Aren said he wanted to try.
video

They waited patiently and took turns while each other jumped.  They were aiming for new records!
Ajay wanted to look up world records for the pogo stick.  There are some amazing records!  Pogo sticks underwater?  Crazy!  I've been trying to find a record for kids but haven't found anything official.  Ajay said he's done over 1,000 at one time.  That is a lot of jumping!!