Pip at play

A slow cooker, a basketball, a Lego car built by Red Chief, and all the buckets I moved to clean out the pantry. What more could a two-year-old ask for?


Balancing act

Scheduling, scheduling, scheduling . . . it seems I'm up to my ears! Scheduling lessons I teach, lessons I take, lessons my kids take. Church and scout and school activities. Once I get all the activity scheduling set, I'll schedule my work at home—when to go to the library, get groceries, and clean the bathrooms.

I'm also inputting school information into our calendar (I don't think I would survive without Google Calendar!). Days off, picture days, early outs, and a new twist this year—I have kids in two schools, as Red Chief is moving up to middle school.

School starts next week, and I hope I will have at least a vague idea of when everything will be happening by then.


Recently tried recipes

Lentil burgers. We liked these a lot, but there are a few kinks to iron out. There was a small problem with the amount of lentils in the recipe though. If you're cooking your own, measure out 3 to 3.5 cups cooked lentils. The amount they have you cook was too much. Also, next time I make them I will just add some mustard to the burger mix instead of the maple-mustard sauce. They were already sweet enough with the raisins and they definitely don't need any maple syrup on top of that.

Summer stone fruit crisp. We liked this a lot and devoured it. I made it again the next week but used my own topping recipe (below), which I like better (probably because it's not gluten free, ha!).

Cacao chia pudding. I'm not a huge chia fan but this blended pudding wasn't bad. The texture was a little too runny for me though. I don't think I'll bother making it again.

Best ever vegan cinnamon rolls. Love. (P.S. You can cut way down on the butter.)

Giant gingerbread kids. Tiger Lily has made these twice. They originally came from Alpha-Bakery.

Xtra special celebration cake. Red Chief made this, also from Alpha-Bakery. We enjoyed it without frosting. Both these recipes are what I call accidentally vegan, which means they don't use animal products, but I don't think they were trying to.

Fruit crisp topping

1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons water

Mix well and crumble over cobbler (about 9" square). Bake as your recipe directs, or at 350° for 45 minutes.



Here's something I haven't done since changing my diet. I made yogurt!

Surprisingly, dairy-free yogurt is even easier to make than cow's milk yogurt. You don't have to heat and cool the milk in the beginning. All I had to do was mix the powder from a probiotic capsule into a box of soy milk, pour into jars, and push a button on my Instant Pot, which is a multi-cooker that can slow cook, pressure cook, and also make yogurt. Twelve hours later, it was ready.

It turned out really well, and I can't even tell a difference between this and dairy yogurt (although I'll admit, it's been quite awhile since I had any). I plopped some jam in the bottom of each jar before pouring in the milk so it would be more fun to eat. It was nice to have yogurt again.

I liked this yogurt much better than pre-sweetened storebought coconut and almond yogurts that I've tried in the last few years.

Something I just realized: this recipe is food storage friendly! The milk I used was shelf-stable, as was the jam, and the probiotic capsules should last quite awhile in the fridge since I'm only planning on using them to make yogurt.

Instructions here. I'd been meaning to try this recipe for quite some time; my only regret is that I didn't try it sooner.



I feel like I've had a lot of duds lately (classics like The Metamorphosis and The Sorrows of Young Werther). But I did recently read and love Under the Country Sky by Grace S. Richmond, and I'm looking forward to trying more of her books.

Red Chief and Tiger Lily have been very into cooking lately—mostly treats, but you've got to start somewhere! I have been sticking to simple meals until our busy summer is over.

Sick. We've been passing around a cold for more than a week now. I'm ready to be back to normal!

In the garden
It's a jungle out there!

In the home
Trying to keep up with the minimum while I'm sick (that would be dishes, laundry, and picking up). Excited to get a new schedule going when school starts next week.

Since he can't stay out of the water (bathtubs, sinks, hoses, anywhere he can find it!), I got him a water table for the back porch. Never before has child been so enchanted with plaything. I'm glad I didn't wait until his birthday. He gets soaked every time he goes outside, but no matter. It's hot out. Also: he has given up his pacifier. As I expected, he is not sleeping as well without it, but it was past time for it to go.

Tiger Lily
Decided that she doesn't like ballet, but adored her theater class. I'm glad she was able to try some new things this summer. She is also the best helper with Pip.

Red Chief
Has made incredible strides in French horn in the last three months since he started. He's gone much, much further than I imagined he would in so short a time. Oh yes, and he is also an official Boy Scout now!

It's smoke season. I hate keeping my kids inside, but the smoke certainly doesn't do our colds any favors! Other than that, it's just hot. The smoke and heat are both more bearable if we can get out first thing in the morning.

My finance class at church is almost done and it's been an incredible experience! I've also been trying to read a few classics (as I mentioned above). I've been thinking a lot about picking up a class of some sort in the fall, but I'm going to wait and see what Pip's binky-less naps are going to look like before I commit to anything.

Inputting all our information for the school year into Google Calendar. It's more complicated now that we will have kids in two schools. We're definitely entering a busier stage in our lives, and I'm mourning the simplicity of our past years.


Catching up

Last month we traveled to Michigan for a family reunion. We did lots of fun things, but what I really wanted to do was to see my grandparents.

While we were there, they were honored with awards from their village for the community work they've done. I have always admired their energy and initiative. I have a lot to live up to.

I've procrastinated sharing our trip because there are just too many pictures. So I'll just do a photo dump and get it over with, shall I? Here are a few of my favorites.

Pip looking adorable in my dad's hat

Red Chief, railroaded

Looking for fossils in Lake Michigan

Tiger Lily having fun with relatives

My aunt has a party barn. How very stylish of her! (And she does throw a great party.)

Mackinac Bridge


Summer planning: reality

I just wanted to make sure I give you all the right idea, after writing all about my summer scheduling. Let it be said for the record: we do not do every single thing every day. Some days everything goes swimmingly. Some days nothing gets done. Most days I hit most of the high points with the kids, but I'm chronically behind on housework. And I know from experience of past summers that I will stick to my plan more in the beginning of the summer than I will by the end.

Yes, housework is what has been suffering most. I try to schedule simple meals and keep up on laundry and dishes, and enlist the kids to help me, but even so, if you walk into our house, you will probably find toys everywhere, dirty dishes in the kitchen, and floors that desperately need sweeping and vacuuming (and mopping, because Pip likes to pour his own drinks). The garden needs weeding; the box of shoes has been dumped again because someone couldn't find a sandal; someone is mad at me; the garden is parched and overrun with weeds; I haven't made breakfast in weeks.

One thing I know from experience that I have to watch in the summer is my own sanity. In the summer, I miss my night out to orchestra every week (we take the summer off), and at the same time I get to see a lot more of my lovely children. I love them and take full responsibility for them and I'm glad they're home, but let's face it: things are a lot crazier around here when they're not in school all day. I try to take quiet time when I can, and sometimes my husband will put off other plans so I can take an evening off. I appreciate him so much.

In the end, life is good. I have three children who are happy and healthy and learning and growing, and they have parents who love them. Even if the balance in our home hangs a little too far toward the messy side sometimes, we live life here, and we're comfortable here, and we're happy here.


Summer planning: outings

We're much happier when we get out of the house every day. I try to plan a good mix of fun and have-tos. Here is our schedule of activities outside the house:
  • Monday: Library.
  • Tuesday: Take a walk in the morning. Piano lessons. Ballet for Tiger Lily.
  • Wednesday: Adventure day! The kids choose a fun activity, and they are excused from some of their regular tasks.
  • Thursday: Grocery store day. The kids get to choose something fun to eat for lunch.
  • Friday: Visit a park. French horn lessons for Red Chief (and the younger two get to tag along and run up and down the stairs in the music building, which they find surprisingly exciting).
  • Saturday: I can't schedule Saturdays. They always happen differently.
  • Sunday: Church.
We actually stick to this schedule pretty closely, although it's always subject to change if something out of the ordinary happens.


Summer planning: jobs

I make my kids do actual work every day during the summer. On top of their schoolwork and music practice, they have to keep their rooms clean. The rooms are a bigger thing than they should be. I am trying to train them to get their rooms 100% clean every day so they don't get out of hand, but some days I am impressed how fast they can get them out of hand.

They're also supposed to be doing household jobs every day, but I have to admit that I'm not as consistent about assigning those jobs as I should be. However, they do end up helping a lot, even informally: they help with Pip constantly, and do jobs when I ask them to (mostly dishes and picking up).