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Feeding Our Families: After School Snacks

When my kiddos come home from school they are famished, and we still have a few hours until dinner. Instead of them rifling through my pantry grabbing tons of junk food, I plan out some healthy options. These snacks work well because I can customize to my kiddos preferences. And with BeBe now in elementary school, she can make many of these snacks on her own after I show her how to do it.

Fruit Salad – Obviously this is one of the healthiest option and I generally offer this first. I let the kids pick out the fruit they want to buy for that week, so we are constantly switching up the fruit salad. We have a few variations everyone likes:

  • Sliced Apples with honey drizzled over the top
  • Bananas, Strawberries and Blueberry in a bowl
  • Watermelon, cantaloupe and/or honeydew pre-sliced in a large bowl

fruit salad

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Amazon Prime Day Starts at 3 PM Eastern!

Today is like Black Friday in July! Amazon Prime Day starts at 3 PM Eastern. There will be deals available on Amazon via the website and the app, plus via Alexa and even in-store at Whole Foods.

Some of the best sellers last year that are already or likely to be on sale this year as well include:

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Lion Family, Party of 6

Hello Hive! It’s been a while since I have updated you all on our family, but we have had some big changes!

Things have been a little wild in the Lion household for the last few months, for the best possible reason! In February we got a long awaited phone call and brought home two precious siblings to share our home for a while, turning our family of 4 into a family of 6 instantaneously. We were as prepared as we could be, but you can never be fully prepared for bringing a new child (or children) into your life.

I have started to write this post a million times, but writing about someone else’s babies is different. I want to share so much with you about foster care. About how beautiful it is, but also how messy. That room that I posted about last year, it isn’t empty anymore. It is divided in half, and both sides are filled with life. When I reread through that post and remember the times I spent on my knees waiting for and praying for these children, it is almost too much to even put into words.

I hope to be able to figure out a way to share my own story as a foster parent without sharing too much of theirs, because I think that the more the world knows about what it is really like, the less scary it will seem to others who may be able to share their home in the same way, or at least support those around them who enter into this adventure. What I can share now is that our kiddos are 10 and 11, older than the age we had planned on, but we are so thankful for the big age gap. Turns out big kids are pretty awesome, and it has been such a joy getting to know them. Our littles adore them, and they have so much fun playing together. But the gap is big enough that the big kids can also go off on their own and do “big kid stuff” and it doesn’t bother the littles that they are left out.

In a flash, they have been with us for more than 5 months. When they came to us, the social worker said to expect 6-12 months, and at the time that seemed like forever. But guys, I realized today that our time with them is so limited. These little lights in my life, they are only here for a short time. My Facebook feed is full of mommas saying goodbye to their high school graduates as they launch them into the world. And in just a short time, I will be doing the same with these little people that I have come to love so much. I know it isn’t the same. But man, it didn’t take long at all for these kiddos to blend into our family and it feels like they have always been here. Saying goodbye is going to be impossibly hard, but I would not change a thing.

Seeing the beach for the first time after a very long road trip to Florida.

Seeing the beach for the first time after a very long road trip to Florida during Spring Break

In addition to our family growing, our littles are growing at what feels like lightning pace. Little Lion is getting ready to start Kindergarten in the fall, and Baby Lion isn’t a baby at all anymore…she is now 3 and a half! We have been through a long few years with Little Lion, trying to figure out more about the way his brain and body work (more about that in a future post), and I am very thankful for an awesome year of Pre-K that prepared us for school, an IEP team that loves him and wants the best for him, and the team of doctors we have worked with to help us get to the root of what is going on. We still don’t have definite answers, but our lives have become significantly easier with supports in place and we are so grateful. Baby Lion (I feel like she needs a different blog name now haha) is cheery and cuddly and full of life. We are officially out of the baby/toddler stage, and it feels so free! A little bittersweet, but mostly we are just really enjoying entering into the big kid years. We are hiking and traveling again, and I feel like we are finally getting our footing in this whole life as a family thing.

A rare shot of the two of them sitting still together

A rare shot of the two of them sitting still together

As for me and Mr. Lion, we both have had work transitions in addition to our move to the country last year. During the last school year I decided to give it a try being back in the classroom, but being a classroom teacher is just too intense with 4 kids at home and I won’t be returning next year. I love teaching, but spending my days with 29 ten year olds all day left me drained and exhausted by the time I got home from work. Add in all the appointments that come with kids with special needs and foster family visits, and I felt like my brain has been on fire for months. Starting in August I will begin graduate classes to add an additional certification to my teaching license so that I can specialize in just one area, so I am looking forward to that this fall! In the mean time I will be working part time from home for now, unless a flexible full time opportunity presents itself. I used to be a person who planned far into the future, but being a grown up in the world long enough has showed me that plans are best held lightly.

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Our house is full, loud, and crazy, but so full of love and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I am glad to be back as part of this community and would love to share more of our adventures in the months to come :).

 

Gifts for a Preschooler (3-5 year olds)

Our Baby Pizza turned 3 years old last month!  Our baby is no longer a baby and is getting ready for preschool in the fall!  To celebrate her birthday, we had a small outdoor party at a nearby park.  There was a large playground and an open area that was perfect for our bubbles, chalk, and kite flying.  It was simple and perfect for a 3 year old birthday party.

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Weeks before her actual birthday, I was on Amazon quite often looking for gifts that I thought she might enjoy.  My extended family is often asking for suggestions on what to get the girls, so I usually have some ideas that I throw out there for them. It is definitely an added bonus to find things that her 5 year old sister will also enjoy. Here are some of my gift ideas for a preschool age child (3-5 years old).

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Wireless Bluetooth Karaoke Microphone

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Feeding Our Families – Quick Strawberry Shortcake

This is such a great time of year with all the fresh produce! I live in an area that has an abundance of amazing fruit available from June to September, and we love going to the farmers market. One of my most favorite desserts for the summer is strawberry shortcake. I’ve mentioned before that I love to bake, but I also have limited time, so I try to modify recipes to make them easier or quicker. This is a super easy dessert that takes about 10 minutes to put together and it is really delicious.

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Feed My Family: Muffuletta Sandwiches for Lunch

On the weekends when we are hanging around the house, I want to make a lunch that the kids will actually enjoy and will hold them over until dinner. This lunch option is also easy to serve to friends and family when we are watching the game – World Cup soccer is in full swing here.

One of my favorite sandwiches is a New Orleans’ Muffuletta sandwich. Just because we can’t go to the Big Easy this summer doesn’t mean we can’t eat like it. And with sandwiches you can customize for picky eaters.

Muffuletta

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Feeding Our Families – My Go-To Groceries

One of the hardest things about meal planning is getting a good list of meals together so you are not bored and not overwhelmed with ingredients. Mr. Cereal and I cook almost all of our dinners at home (we rarely eat out), so a few years ago we started keeping a running list of our favorite meals. This evolved into seasonal lists because I personally don’t want to eat big hearty meals in the summer. What I’ve found that helps is a list of items that we try to keep on hand all the time. This makes my shopping significantly easier, and it means that I can often revise or throw a meal together last minute if needed. So I’ve put together a list of ingredients that I like to have on hand to help me create meals during the week.

1/ Pasta – In my case, I am gluten free so I buy two or three packages of gluten free pasta at a time. We don’t necessarily eat pasta all that often, but it is a lifesaver to have it on hand. I often find myself making a small batch of butter and parm noodles for the kids because it is quick and easy and I know they will eat it. A bonus is to keep frozen slices of chicken on hand. I love getting rotisserie chickens and taking them apart and freezing the meat for later uses.

2/ Pre-made pizza dough – We eat pizza at least once a week and it’s a great meal because it is relatively easy, the kids love it, and we can mix it up frequently. Most grocery stores carry fresh dough now, so even if I am not planning on having pizza that week, I will still pick one up. I can use the dough for bread sticks, pocket meals, cinnamon rolls, and so many other things. It’s a great, versatile, and cheap item to have on hand.

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