Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Get Lost in the MAiZE!

Bug LOVES corn mazes. It's his number one favorite fall activity outside of the Feast of Tabernacles. We don't celebrate Halloween, so we don't really have a care for all the pumpkins (except for eating them) and other Halloween related stuff. A corn maze though? Now that's cause for excitement.


We were recently given the opportunity to check out Pumpkin Patch and The MAiZE on Sauvie Island. Every year The Pumpkin Patch has one of the biggest corn mazes in the Portland area. They usually have a fun, local theme to it. Along with the corn maze, The Pumpkin Patch offers a hay ride to the pumpkin field, a hay pyramid, and hay maze (for little tikes), a cow train, a petting zoo, a large produce shop, and many food choices. It's easy to make The Pumpkin Patch a full afternoon worth of fun!

After grabbing a coffee at their 'Pumpkin Perk' coffee stand, we headed to the big striped tent to start the maze. The only map they offer is in the form of a postcard you can buy for 50 cents, but they do offer trivia cards that match up with numbers along the maze route with the right answers telling you which direction to go. You can choose from a variety of cards including local trivia, corn trivia and even Bible trivia. 

The maze is broken into two parts, both ending at the starting area. The first part is easier than the second and is perfect for those who are truly afraid of getting lost in the maze. We did both parts in under 45 minutes. 

Bug then asked to go back into the second part by himself, so he ran that one again. Hubby and I spent that time by grabbing an elephant ear and sitting at the picnic tables for a few minutes. 

After the maze, we let Bug play on the hay pyramid for a bit and said hi to all the animals in the barn before jumping on the hay ride to go pick out a couple little pumpkins. We checked out all the produce offerings in the store and then headed home. 


Bug and I have been to the Pumpkin Patch a number of times, but it was Hubby's first time. We've always enjoyed going out there. As my boy gets bigger though, I've found that it's not as entertaining for him. The maze is not as difficult as we'd like it to be (we like a challenge). The other things for kiddos to do are just not as fun for an 11 year old as they were a 7 year old! 

We did enjoy the afternoon as a family, though. Sometimes it's nice just to spend the time together, even if it's not the most exciting thing to be doing. I would highly recommend The Pumpkin Patch and MAiZE for families with younger children to check out if they are looking for a fun way to spend a fall afternoon.

If you prefer something a little different and have older kids, you might be interested in their haunted maze. We don't enjoy that kind of thing, so I've never gone to it. 


You can find The Pumpkin Patch at 
16511 NW Gilihan Rd
Portland, OR 97231

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why We Love Homeschooling

We had our first day of the new school year today and as part of our first day traditions we made a list of what we love about homeschooling. These are listed in no particular order.

1. Choice of subjects. When asked to clarify, Bug stated he likes to have some say in his subjects/curriculum for the year AND the freedom to choose what he wants to do when in the course of a day. I, too, love the freedom to choose subject matter and curriculum that fits my child best.

2. Being able to take vacation when we want without having to do homework. We just recently got back from 10 days in Texas while celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles. We loved the freedom to leave and come back without the stress of school work! 

3. We get to choose the people we do school with. We have a fabulous local homeschool group that we meet with on Fridays for casual classes and social times. If for some reason we didn't feel comfortable with someone there, we have the choice to not spend time with them. Bug does not have to allow himself to be bullied simply because he has no option but to spend time in a classroom with someone. I have the ability to choose the adults that will play a teacher/mentor roll in his life. Choice is good! 

4. We get to celebrate with LimeBerry! Said while we ate LimeBerry frozen yogurt in celebration of our first day of school. We can celebrate any big or little achievement in the way that we love - usually with something sweet! 

5. Doing school in our pjs! So Bug doesn't find this as important, but I find this to be an awesome thing! There are many days where we have to actually get dressed and leave the house, but I take pure joy in the days that I declare we are not going anywhere and I won't be getting dressed! 

6. Home cooked meals for lunch. No questionable chicken nuggets and chocolate milk for lunch here! This doesn't mean we eat a hot, fresh-cooked meal every day, but I have many more lunch options when I don't have to worry about putting it in a sack lunch! 

7. Can listen to music or audiobooks during school. I have an auditory kid. He can't focus when it's too quiet. If there isn't background noise, he'll make his own. So we like to have Pandora filling the house during the day. He also listens to a lot of audiobooks and sometimes gets away with listening to them while working on another subject. (And sometimes they are the subject!)

8. Get to take birthdays off! So he has a summer birthday and didn't really think about the fact that he'd have his birthday off if he was in public school too. But this is indicative of our philosophy that people and relationships come first. We have no problem putting school on hold to celebrate a friend or family member's birthday or just to grow relationships with the people we love. 

9. We don't have a huge supply list every year. Crayons, pencils, paper, scissors, glue, kleenex, expo markers... the list goes on. I've seen those lists. I couldn't imagine buying all of that new every year! Sure, we have to buy some supplies. I have a bit of an addiction to buying school/office supplies so I often buy more than we need. But I can look at what we have on hand and choose not to buy something because we have one (or ten) from the year before. 

10. Not a bunch of 'dead weight' learning. It took me a moment to figure out what Bug was talking about with this one. Basically he meant there is no busy work. All the stuff we do has a purpose. If we find that he's spending time on something that's not actually teaching him something, we stop doing it. He loves having a condensed schedule with no fluff! 

We probably could have come up with many more reasons we love homeschooling, but this pretty much covers all the important ones. At least for today! I love this tradition of reminding ourselves what we love about this lifestyle we chose! 

What are your back to school traditions? 

Linked up at Hip Homeschool Moms.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Menu Plan - Back in the Swing of Things

Summer is gone. The Feast of Tabernacles is over. The rain is upon us. Our new school year is starting.

Menu planning is back. Things are so much easier when I plan a menu, shop for it and then know what I'm making for dinner before 5 o'clock rolls around.


Chili & Cornbread
Split Pea & Turkey Ham Soup, Biscuits
Spaghetti w/ Meatballs, Garlic Bread and Green Beans.
Enchilada Casserole
Eggplant Lasagna & Salad
Steaks, Brussels Sprouts, and Roasted Red Potatoes
Baked Potato Bar
Chef Salad
Chicken & Pear Salad
Orange Chicken, Rice and Broccoli
Pancakes and Fruit
Grain Free Chicken Nuggets & Salad
Coconut Almond Crusted Cod, Homemade Fries and Sauteed Kale

Weekdays are a rotation of:
yogurt w/ muffin
oatmeal or cream of wheat {almond/flax porridge for me!}
eggs and toast

Sabbath Breakfasts:
French Toast {by special requested from the Hubby}
Grain Free Dutch Baby with Blueberry Topping

My goal is to pre-pack into our bento boxes for easy-to-grab lunches, even if we are just staying home! These will include sandwiches, slices of meat & cheese, crackers, apple slices, bananas, veggie sticks. Occasionally we'll have leftovers, but we don't usually have a lot of leftovers and it's usually destined for Hubby's lunch!

As of tomorrow, I'm going back to my grain-free, low carb, low sugar 'diet'*. I feel so much better when I eat this way, I wish I didn't make it so hard on myself to stick with it. Any of the above recipes that don't seem to fit into this way of eating will be modified for me. My boys do not eat this way, although I try not to make two different meals.
*To me, this is a lifestyle change that just has to be restarted now and then when I fall off the wagon. I don't see it as a diet only to lose weight.

Check out what others are serving their families over at!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fall Fun!

We love fall. Just love it. The warm days with the cool mornings. Changing colors. Plentiful produce. It's definitely my favorite time of the year! 

One of our favorite things to do is visit the local farms and check out what they've got going on. Here in Portland, the number one place to go is The Pumpkin Patch on Suavie Island. They have The MAiZE!

I have a fabulous offer for all my local readers. Save $2.00 off coupon for regular maze tickets. Limit 4 person customer.Order tickets online at ***** Enter the code: 2014 *****


Monday, April 21, 2014

Menu Plans ~ Lots of Links to Recipes!

I'm loving this menu planning of making a list and then choosing something that morning (or night before). It's much easier to be flexible!

Here's my next two weeks list. We are full in baseball season, so lots of slow cooker and easy meals!

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken, Rice, and Roasted Garlic Broccoli
Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Beef, Rice and Sauteed Kale
Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Chopped Salad
Almond-Crusted Chicken Strips, Sweet Potato Fries & Green Salad
Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes {half beef/half lentils} over Quinoa, Green Salad
Sweet Potato Quinoa Patties (cilantro instead of thyme), sweet chili aioli dipping sauce & roasted broccoli
Chicken Sausage & Leftover Veggie Soup
Zucchini Bread Pancakes, Breakfast Sausage and Canned Peaches
Homemade Pizza ~ Sun-dried Tomatoes, Artichoke Hearts, Spinach & Feta Cheese
BBQ Hamburgers, Steak= Fries, Grilled Asparagus
Burrito Bowls ~ crockpot beans, rice, shredded cheese, tomato, and avocado
Taco Soup with shredded cheese, avocado, sour cream and tortilla chips
Chef Salad ~ turkey, boiled eggs, cubed cheese, on a green salad

Baking List:
Grain-Free Banana Muffins (with and without blueberries)
Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins
Blueberry Muffins
Grain-Free Graham Crackers
Coconut & Flax Crackers {recipe to come}
Wheat and Oat Bread

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Changing Up the Menu

I haven't been very good at menu planning recently. Really, I've been horrible at it.  I have a friend who simply plans what is going to be eaten over the next two weeks, but not which day they fall on. I liked this idea as you can go more with what you feel like that day rather than worry about liking what you've picked! So I'm going to give it a try.  I'm making a list for 3 weeks, to get myself onto the routine I want (based on shopping days). It might get revised a little next weekend depending on what's on sale when we go shopping.

I'm going to start with just dinner ideas, as that is what needs to be shopped for and planned the most. I still need to figure out what to do for breakfast/lunch planning, but we'll just wing it for now!

The List:

Salmon Patties x 2
~ with couscous and roasted carrots w/ feta and parsley (new recipe)
~ with quinoa and {veggie}
Stew {SC} & Rolls
Chicken Soup {SC} & Rolls x2
Pancakes x2 
Eggs, Bacon & Fruit
Taco Salad
Enchilada Casserole {SC} & Salad
Italian Roast Beef {SC}, Rolls & {veggie}
Pear, Gorgonzola, Chicken Salad
Chef Salad
Chicken Curry {SC} & Rice
Chicken Stir Fry & Rice
Hamburgers on the Grill & Green Salad
Grilled Chicken w/ Tahini Sauce, Tomato and Cucumber Salad & Pita Bread
Burrito Bowls
Homemade Pizza
Eat Out x2 

{SC} = Slow Cooker
{veggie} = TBD Vegetable Side, determined by sales. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Force {Book Review}

I'm happy to bring you my first book review! I love to read and enjoy sharing my thoughts on books with my friends. My goal is to bring you many more book reviews!

I was given The Force by Alexandra and Joyce Swann to read and review. Here is the description of the book from the publisher:

Someone is murdering the world’s most beautiful women—over and over and over.
When Jarrod and Joshua Sinclair are called in to consult with the FBI about the Hollywood Starlet murders, they immediately suspect their old nemesis Josef Helmick of creating clones of famous women for a visiting Saudi prince. Wasting no time, they hire retired detective Fred Kowalski and send him to Dubai to uncover Josef’s base of operations and build a case against him for the murders. 
But Fred soon discovers that Helmick Enterprises is harboring a secret much darker than human trafficking. 
Fred must stop Helmick before he resurrects an ancient, diabolical Force in order to bring the entire human race under his control.

My Thoughts
Before reading The Force, I chose to read it's prequel, The Fourth Kingdom. Although The Force stands alone without an issue, The Fourth Kingdom does offer some back story that fills in a few details.

From the beginning, I was pulled into The Force. The intrigue and suspense of this book paired with the science fiction aspect reminded me a little of Michael Crichton, but with an obvious Christian Worldview. Mostly taking place in the year 2041, the story picks up with Jarrod and Joshua Sinclair. I loved this set of twins from The Fourth Kingdom and I was happy to see them again. In a different way, I was happy to see Josef Helmick because he's the kind of bad guy you love to hate. The clash of good and evil is very present throughout the entire story and really keeps you on the edge of your seat. Without giving away spoilers, I was intrigued by what appeared to be a setup for end-time events. I loved that it had me opening my Bible and looking up additional facts. The variety of characters with different background kept the plot moving and spinning. At times it felt a little complicated, but it all came together wonderfully in the end.

About the Authors
Joyce and Alexandra Swann are mother and daughter. Joyce homeschooled her ten children from the first grade through master’s degrees. She is a well-known author and speaker on the subject of homeschooling. For nearly a decade she was a popular column-ist for "Practical Homeschooling Magazine". She now blogs regularly on parenting, homeschooling, and Christian lifestyle issues.

Joyce and Alexandra have co-authored two other novels, The Fourth Kingdom and The Twelfth Juror, both of which were published in 2010. Joyce’s personal story of her experiences raising and educating her family is chronicled in Looking Backward: My Twenty-Five Years as a Homeschooling Mother, published in February of 2011. Her novel, The Warrior, which tells the story of one woman’s ten year prayer vigil for a man she has never met, was released in May of 2012. She is also the author of two children’s books, "Tales of Pig Isle" and "The McAloons", which began as stories that she told to entertain her grandchildren.
Alexandra is author of "No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master’s Degree at Age Sixteen" and "Writing for Today". She has been self-employed for over fourteen years and was the 2011 Chairwoman of the Board of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She writes a regular blog, Paying for Protection, about the consequences of over-regulation and over-reaching government. Her novel "The Planner", which is the prequel to "The Chosen", was published in June of 2012.

The Giveaway
To help celebrate the release of The Force, Frontier 2000 Media is holding a giveaway for The Fourth Kingdom and The Force as well as nine other books from great Christian authors! Head on over and get entered to win!