April 25, 2014

the week that no one blogged

It's been a quiet week on our little blog. Like, really quiet.

We didn't mean to take a break from blogging. It just sort of... happened. After skyping with Katie this morning, I found out that she has way better excuses than I do for her absence. But I figured I would state my case anyway. Here is what I have been up to this week (brace yourselves, things are about to get really exciting)...

- organized three drawers and re-organized all the craft supplies
- finally, finally cleaned the master bathroom (don't ask me when it was last cleaned, I don't remember)
- ventured out to the library, park, Ikea, grocery store, dentist, and hair dressers
- stayed up late one night making forty cupcakes with blue frosting and graham cracker boats for James' Awanas Cubbies class

- played "good-guys-bad-guys-trucks-and-cars" (as James calls it), baby dolls with Eleanor, play dough, and construction
- moved around shelving units and re-organized toys, games, and books therein
- made countless lego structures
- read countless board books (and my Bible almost every day!)
- completed about ten loads of laundry, four loads of dishes, and still haven't mopped the kitchen floor...
- began about six blog posts, but never returned to complete them

...and something else... what am I forgetting?

Oh yeah, raised two humans while growing another one, and decided each night to choose sleep over blogging.

Anyway, I hope you had a wonderful week, regardless of the productivity.

Happy weekend, friends!

April 18, 2014

15 weeks

Holy moley! This is from 15 weeks (actually just taken a couple days ago), but I am 16 weeks tomorrow! And we find out the baby's gender the day after mother's day, which seems to be coming up so soon. 

So far this pregnancy is flying by, but I know that the best way to slow down time is to be in the last trimester of pregnancy, which always d..r..a...g...s on.

Anyway, we are headed out of town this weekend to be with family for food, egg hunts, and celebrating the Risen Savior.

Happy Easter!
He is Risen!

April 17, 2014

four quick and easy spring kid crafts

Since I have been feeling more myself, I have been able to plan crafts for James to do and we have been loving it! I forgot (after a whole two months) how fun it is to make up and/or look up activities for James, and then to encourage and assist him through them. It may sound corny, but it is definitely bonding time for us. 

Here are a few simple spring time/ Easter crafts we have done:

1. Bunny face- I cut out all the parts he would need, and then helped him glue them together. He also cut the twine into short pieces and glued those on as the whiskers:

He took some artistic liberties and added a ba-zillion egg stickers as well. I still like how it turned out, because he made it, of course:

2. Cotton ball lamb- James actually made this last year, but I had to include it because I think it is so darn cute. I cut out all the pieces and he taped or glued them together and glued a bunch of cotton balls all over the lamb body. So simple, but adorable:

3. The classic egg-carton caterpillar- obviously, this is not an original, but I had to include it anyway. James painted the egg carton, stuck in some antennas (he didn't think it was necessary to trim them) and glued on the eyes:

Just a dude and his caterpillar (who he named Herman, I believe) :

4. "Stained glass" cross- This is not an original either, but I don't think we crafted it the traditional way. Apparently, it requires contact paper, which we don't have. Instead, I had James modge podge cut out shapes of colored tissue paper onto a piece of white tissue paper. Then, we glued a black paper with a cross cut out of it over the tissue:

Happy crafting and happy Easter!

April 15, 2014

operation get organized: monthly meal plans

The past couple months, I have been blessed to meet with a very dear lady from our church on a regular basis. She raised six children and has something like nineteen grandchildren. Needless to say, she has so much wisdom to share with me and I am gladly taking in as much as I can. 
One thing she said to me about having a large family was "I realized I had to get organized." 
This stuck with me. Although we only have two and one on the way, I realized I also need to get organized. 

The first task: organize meals.

I am generally a very good meal planner. I plan out a week or two of meals, make a list, shop smart, and by the end of the meal plan, we are out of food and I repeat the cycle. However, when I had morning sickness I couldn't even think about food, let alone meal plan. 

But! Now that I am feeling much better (except coffee, sniff), I have been meal planning like nobody's business. In fact, I went a little overboard:

I put a lot of thought into every little detail. For example, Wednesdays are easy meals because James has Awanas that night, so we have to eat early. I also tried not to repeat foods in one day; for example, we don't eat quesadillas for lunch on days we are having south-of-the-border type food for dinner. 

It may seem weird that I shared this with you, but I was inspired by a meal plan I had seen online*, so I thought this may inspire someone also. I can honestly say that I feel slightly more calm going into the day (and week, and month!) knowing exactly what I am going to feed my family for each meal. It also makes grocery trips fewer and further between, and writing out my shopping list is a breeze. 

I know the image is a little difficult to see, but if you are interested in obtaining a copy (it's not weird, a friend on mine saw it on our fridge and asked for a copy), I would be more than happy to email it to you. Just email me at fromcuptocup@gmail.com

Happy Planning!

*The meal plan I found online was from Erica, the gal behind the blog Confessions of a Homeschooler. I found her blog while searching for free printables to use at home with James. It is chock-full of useful resources. 

April 11, 2014

ten on ten april :: ashley

1. My helper filling Sadie's bowl.

2. Daddy actually stayed for breakfast! (our favorite- buttermilk oat pancakes with berry maple syrup)

3. The sun coming up over the pond. Ducks resting on the path before a big day.

4. Dr. James administering shots.

5. Crazy kids at the park.

6. You know you're a mom when: spiderman band-aid.

7. I really need to get this girl a sun hat.

8. Getting the last of his frozen Go-gurt treat

9. Sandbox and dirt.

10. Ummm.... I only took nine... whoops...

April 07, 2014

ordinary joys lately :: ashley

It's almost eleven pm on Sunday night, and I can't sleep. I'm not sure if it was the marvelous hour-and-a-half nap I took today, or perhaps the late afternoon cup of Earl Grey, or maybe the excitement of another appointment tomorrow where I get to hear this baby's heartbeat that is causing this lack of sleep. At any rate, I am using this moment of insomnia to catch you up to date on some things I have been grateful for lately...

First off, in the "extraordinary joys" category- I haven't been sharing much about this, but I have been struggling with some serious pregnancy depression. I have been emotional before, with hormones up and down, but never dealt with anything like this. Without going into extreme detail, I will just say that I felt like I was in a dark, stormy spiral, heading downward. Now for the joyful part: the Lord has reached down and pulled me out. I finally feel like I am returning to my normal, joyful, self. And it is glorious. There is no other explanation than to say: I cried out to the Lord and He saved me. Amen.

Now I feel that I can again experience the ordinary joys in life, here are a few:

1. The view from my kitchen window that allowed me to put away a ginormous amount of groceries from Costco in peace:

2. This verse saw me through the past few weeks, but, Hallelujah, it was finally time to change it (sadly, the chalk marker I used on this little board wouldn't wash off. Oh well, one chalk board down) :

3. A quiet time one morning after Eleanor woke up at six, and then actually fell back asleep for about twenty whole minutes. Nothing short of a miracle:

4. Amy's burritos, that were on super-sale and save me from lunches of PB and J crusts:

5. Morning Thunder black tea, because I still can't get myself to drink coffee, but this stuff is so delicious with a splash of soy milk and gives me a little morning boost:

6. A key fob! (queue angels singing)... I have never owned a car newer than a '96, so I have never had one of these magnificent devices. But a couple months ago we broke down and bought a mini-van (just at the right time, we realized about two weeks later) and it has this wonderful little remote that I am completely obsessed with:

Well, I am going to attempt to get some sleep now.

What has brought you joy lately? What little things bless you?

I would love to hear!

April 02, 2014

strawberry lemon oat muffins

Over the past couple years, my free time for baking has been drastically reduced.

When James was a baby I would clean, cook, and bake during his nap times. Once he actually started (kind of) going to bed at a decent time at night I could stay up late and bake every once in a while. Then came Eleanor.

Newborns really never allow any down time to bake. Pretty much any time Elle is sleeping I am frantically trying to catch up on house work or sleep. But, as Elle is moving out of the newborn stage and starting to take (slightly) more regular naps, I sometimes plop James on the counter and have him "help" me with my baking.

Now that I am expecting baby number three, I often use Eleanor's nap times as a "rest time" (aka Chuck the Truck) for James and nap time for me. I am just so exhausted all the time.

The other day was an exception to the norm, however. James had been a crank all day long and hadn't slept well the night before, so I had him take a nap. Of course, the kiddos didn't coordinate their naps because that would have been too convenient, so Elle was up with me while brother slept.

I decided to bake anyway.

I plopped Eleanor on the counter, gave her some measuring cups, and let her cover herself with flour and oats. It was great. Unlike James, my high-maintenance baking buddy, we didn't have to spend ten minutes deciding which apron to wear, she didn't notice when I poured almost all the ingredients in myself, and she didn't even try to eat the batter like James always does.


Best of all, I didn't have to stay up late into the night making these muffins that I had dreamed up.

Strawberry Lemon Oat Muffins
makes one dozen muffins

1 1/2 c flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat and 1/2 cup all-purpose)
1/2 c oat flour (I just whirl up some oats in my food processor)
1/2 c old-fashioned oats
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 c coconut oil
3/4 brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 c yogurt*
1/3 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 very juicy lemon, or 2 small lemons)
1 1/2 c diced strawberries
a couple tablespoons turbinado sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray or grease with coconut oil.
Combine first seven ingredients (flours through lemon zest) in a medium bowl, set aside.
Melt the coconut oil and place in a large bowl. Whisk in the brown sugar, eggs one at a time, yogurt, and lemon juice. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently fold in strawberries.
Scoop batter into the prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let sit in the tin for a couple minutes before running a knife around the muffins and removing them from the tin. Let cool completely on a wire rack, or eat them while nice and warm.

*plain, vanilla, or lemon should work; if it is sweetened you may want to reduce the brown sugar by a couple tablespoons