Today is Chloe’s 7th birthday and this is her annual birthday interview video

Chloe turned 7 today! Keith took this photo this morning before school 10-11-17

I can’t believe it, but our little Chloe Michelle belle aka Coco bean aka Cocomo aka pumpkin princess turned SEVEN today. SEVEN, you guys!

Keith, Jeffrey bean and I sang to her when she got up this morning and I made her favorite breakfast, square pancakes with turkey sausage. She had hers sans maple syrup. It was pizza day at school, so of course I let her have it, being her birthday and all. (The 8th graders sell pizza from a local pizza place every Wednesday to raise money for their 8th grade trip.)

On our way to school we stopped and got 6 lbs of clementine cuties to share with Chloe’s 1st grade class. Each teacher at our school handles birthdays differently, and Chloe’s teacher keeps things sweet and simple. The birthday child brings fruit to share with the class as a special treat and the whole class puts together a birthday book with drawings from each classmate. The kids get to interview the birthday child and their answers go up on the board.

We had leftover clementines which we shared with the aftercare kids when school ended. (I am the first grade aftercare teacher at our school.)

Keith picked us all up from school when Jeffrey got out and the four of us went to Barnes & Noble, the kids’ favorite store, where Chloe got to use her gift card from grandma and grandpa. She got a new backpack and an Inside Out book with audio cd. She also got a free sugar cookie, which was a fun surprise. When we got home, Chloe got to Facetime with her other grandma in Virginia, and then we conducted her birthday interview on the front porch as the sun was setting. Here is her birthday interview for age 7.

If you would like to start this tradition yourself, I have a free printable of the 20 questions I use each year which you can find here.  🙂 Thanks for popping in and sharing Chloe’s 7th birthday with us!

Organic Pumpkin Patch Day at Stehly Farms Organics + Chloe’s 7th Birthday Party!

organic pumpkin patch san diego ca

Every October, Stehly Farms Organics in Valley Center, Ca chooses one day to invite the public into their family farm for an organic pumpkin pickin’ extravaganza! For the past couple of years, their organic pumpkin day has coincided with Chloe’s birthday weekend and the kids’ school’s fall holiday, so we’ve held Chloe’s birthday parties there. It makes party planning simple on my part, since there is so much to do at the farm!

The Stehly family works really hard and puts on a fantastic event which includes guided tours through their 278 acre organic farm, train rides, a petting zoo (which usually includes baby animals!), a corn maze, an organic pumpkin patch, a really great play structure for kids, a big fire truck, an organic farm stand with goodies like fresh produce and freshly pressed juices, pumpkin gelato, pizza, a taco stand and grassy hills for the kids to roll down. It’s the best!

This year we invited Chloe’s 1st grade classmates, grandma and grandpa and her two cousins.

We got their before the pumpkin event started at 9 a.m. Jeffrey and Chloe had a blast on the tire swings while Keith and I set up our tables for the party.

After we set up and before our guests arrived, Keith and I took the kids through the organic pumpkin patch to choose our family pumpkins. Chloe always insists on getting the biggest one. 🙂

While Keith and Jeffrey waited in line for the hay ride/farm tour, Chloe insisted on feeding the horses. It made her a little nervous because a toddler was nipped by one accidentally, but her desire was greater than her fear.

When Chloe’s guests arrived, the kids congregated near the fire truck, of course. And then we headed as a group to the organic corn maze!

After the corn maze, we all gathered at the tables under the trees for organic, gluten free, vegan cake from Jimbo’s Naturally! (It was delicious, even to the non-vegan, non-gluten free people!)

It was a really great day. We went home thoroughly exhausted from our day in the sunshine, and we very much look forward to the spring when Stehly Farms Organics opens up their ranch to us again for their annual organic strawberry picking day. Thanks for reading, friends!

Michaelmas at Sanderling Waldorf School: A Festival of Strength, Courage and Will

Today the kids’ school celebrated Michaelmas, the festival of strength, courage and will. The entire school (minus the nursery kids) performed a pageant in which Archangel Michael helped to subdue a fierce dragon, saving throngs of villagers from their demise.

Archangel Michael, protector from darkness and administrator of cosmic intelligence, serves as a symbol of the triumph of good over evil, of courage over cowardice. In times of chaos and uncertainty it is critical that we have the resolve to summon our strength and inner light so we can transform the darkness and be the beings of light we were created to be.

Transformation of darkness requires fearlessness and compassion. It requires accepting the shadow and subduing it—with love. Only light can conquer darkness. The songs and stories of St Michael nurture the inner light so that the children can go into the world ready to face all of their inner and outer dragons in a courageous and heart-centered way. 

At the end of the pageant the school gathered in the yard where the traditional dragon bread, baked by 1st grade moms, was waiting to be shared with the community. I am so grateful to be a part of this community. Happy Michaelmas, friends.

A birthday tradition I adopted from Pinterest + Jeffrey turns 8 1/2

Every year since they were three, I have interviewed Jeffrey and Chloe with the same twenty questions on their birthdays. It has been so much fun to see how their answers have changed over the years (or in some cases have stayed exactly the same!) This year I dropped the ball on Jeffrey bean’s eighth birthday interview. It was busy! There was a Disney trip, spring break, life, <insert other excuses here>. #momfail BUT, we went ahead and did his interview today, since today marks his half birthday. This is what he had to say. 🙂

This has been such a great tradition for us. (Those sleepless nights nursing my babies with my tablet in hand paid off. Thanks a ton, interwebs, and especially Pinterest!)

If you would like to adopt this tradition for your littles, you can use this list of questions, or get creative and use your own. The key is to ask the same questions each year. 🙂

This is what I ask them:

  1. What is your favorite color?
  2. What is your favorite toy?
  3. What is your favorite fruit?
  4. What is your favorite tv show?
  5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?
  6. What is your favorite outfit?
  7. What is your favorite game?
  8. What is your favorite snack?
  9. What is your favorite animal?
  10. What is your favorite song?
  11. What is your favorite book?
  12. Who is your best friend?
  13. What is your favorite cereal?
  14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?
  15. What is your favorite drink?
  16. What is your favorite holiday?
  17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?
  18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
  19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday?
  20. What do you want to be when you grow up?

For a printable version, right click and save this list, then print as a full page photo:

Feel free to “pin” or print this. I hope your family enjoys this tradition as much as we have. I’m definitely going to keep it alive as long as I can. Thanks for reading!  🙂 Until next time…

Autumn Chat ‘n Craft and musings on being part of Sanderling Waldorf School

When our family joined our local Waldorf school four years ago, one of the things that really attracted me was the deep sense of community, and the warm way in which we were not just welcomed with open arms, but genuinely embraced as though we had been there for years and years; it felt amazing.

Another thing that really drew me in was the way they appealed to my artsy side. To be a part of a Waldorf school is to be immersed in a world of reverence and beauty, a celebration of the natural world in all of its glory. Everything is deliberate, from the colors of the walls in each grade’s classroom, to the way that only certain materials are used in play.

We were a homeschooling family, but after attending a free puppet show the school put on for the community, we were sold. That probably sounds silly, but that one little puppet play—in all of its simplicity—suggested to me that this style of education was more than meets the eye. (Spoiler alert: it is.) On our walk back to the car, Jeffrey bean (who was 5 at the time) said, “Mommy, can I PLEASE go to school here in September?” The thought had actually occurred to me too.

When we looked into Waldorf, it was right in line with our values. Some of the philosophies were foreign to us (ie: holding off on learning to read, especially since Jeffrey started reading in his toddler years) but it all made sense and it just felt…right. I really can’t explain it. It just felt right in my gut. It was a more of a knowing.

Long story short, we ended up enrolling at Sanderling and haven’t looked back. When I was brand new Waldorf mom, I was invited to attend a parents’ group called Chat ‘n Craft where we got to learn the ways of Waldorf arts and crafts. This style of crafting using natural materials like sticks, acorn caps foraged from beneath the trees, naturally dyed silks and wools really appealed to me. It reminded me of a simpler time, like my childhood summer vacations when my mom would snuggle my sister and I and we would read the whole Little House in the Prairie box set and then takes naps.

After a year of attending as a guest, as I was asked by the veteran Chat ‘n Craft mama if I might be able to take over as the lead, to which I gave a nervous but enthusiastic “YES!” I have been carrying on the tradition at Sanderling Waldorf since, with the help of said veteran mama of course.

This morning we had our first Chat ‘n Craft meeting of the year, and it was sooo good to sit with fellow mamas and talk and vent and sew and needlefelt and share and laugh at our silly mistakes and just BE, in the present moment, together. So, so good.

We worked on sweet little autumn inspired treasures for a store we’ll open at an upcoming musical event with local children’s group Hullaballoo.

We needlefelted apples and sewed squashy little pumpkins. We made gnomes, each with its own personality. We embroidered leafy, woolen beds for sleepy nature sprite babies. We even made fairy dust necklaces. And it was glorious.

I am planning on sharing tutorials for some of the darling things we created this morning, but for now you can enjoy some photos. 🙂

Hand sewn harvest pumpkins
Sweet wooden peg babies with acorn caps, nestled in leafy woolen beds
I loooooove these needle felted apples!
And of course, we are Waldorf, so we have to have gnomes. 😉

Magical, right? Thanks so much for visiting with me while I rambled on about how much I love Waldorf education and arts and crafts and magic and gnomes. Sometimes I do that. 😉 Until next time my friends.

Toothfairy adventures

 

At 5 am my alarm went off and I rolled over and thought, “I don’t need to meditate right now. I’ll do it later.” So I re-set it for 6. At 6 I thought, “the kids are having oatmeal for breakfast today and that doesn’t take long to make. Another 15 won’t hurt.” So I re-set it for 6:15. I closed my eyes and as I was drifting back to sleep a sudden realization flashed into my awareness: OH CRAP, JEFFREY LOST A TOOTH YESTERDAY. Wide awake I jumped out of bed praying he was still asleep, searched frantically for a dollar, which I found (thank God!) and I snuck into his room, undetected. Phew. I got the dollar under his pillow but couldn’t locate the tooth. He stirred a little but didn’t wake.

I went downstairs and it dawned on me that, duh, he probably used the tooth fairy pillow I made him when he was 4. I went back up, found the tooth in the pillow and took it. He smiled in his sleep. To my bedroom I went. Then, overthinking things like I do, I thought “he’s going to wonder why the dollar isn’t in the tooth pillow.” So I pressed my luck and went back in. As I dug around under his pillow and located the dollar he opened his eyes and stared into my face in his dreamy little way. As quickly as I could I stuffed the dollar into the tooth pillow while kneeling over and giving him a good morning kiss on his forehead, trying to play it off like I was merely getting him up for school. At breakfast I wondered if he had noticed at all. Is it just me, or is he unusually quiet this morning? Was I not stealthy enough? Did I just kill the magic? 

Then on the drive to school I asked if something was up. “Are you ok, Jeffrey bean?” He smiled dreamily and said he was just thinking, but then there was a slight shift in his demeanor. I asked if he wanted to share and he said, “Well…I’ve been wondering…” My heart starts racing a bit… “…When I get my letter from Hogwarts, well, do you and Daddy have to apply first? Do you get to pick your school? Or do they just send me a letter? I really want to go to Hogwarts, but what if I get a letter from Durmstrang instead? What happens?” There was genuine concern on his sweet little face. And that’s when I realized the magic is still very much alive and I have nothing to worry about.

I’m really going to miss this age when it’s gone. 

Jeffrey’s Summer Recital 2017 at Forte Academy of the Arts San Diego

Jeffrey bean had his piano recital over the weekend at Forte Academy of the Arts in Vista.  He played Sonatina 1 and Cruella De Vil. Here it is for your viewing pleasure. 🙂

Jeffrey has been taking once-a-week piano lessons with Ms. Marla Morrison since August of 2012 when he was just 3 and a half years old. He has come such a long way and it’s so cool to go back and watch all of his recital videos (they happen twice a year) and see how he has progressed over the years.

Forte offers all kinds of music lessons and even art lessons.  When we started there we were a homeschooling family and found that Forte helped to round out the kids’ education.  Music is so great for the brain—and for the soul. If you’re looking for private music lessons in north county San Diego (for children and adults alike) we highly recommend Forte Academy of the Arts in Vista, Ca. 🙂 Should you sign up, tell them the Silvas family sent you.  Thanks for reading, friends! I hope you enjoy the video.

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Recipe

Back in 2012 when our family adopted an organic lifestyle, one of the hardest things to give up was store-bought Ranch dressing.  Ranch dressing made it very easy for us to feed our kiddos fresh veggies and salads.  We tried some of the organic Ranch dressings on the market, but none of them tasted anything like what we remembered, and most of them were full of sugar and other things we were trying to avoid.

Conventional dressings contain health-harming ingredients like nano-particles, GMO high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, brain destroying MSG and the list goes on.  No matter how yummy Ranch is, we couldn’t do that to our bodies anymore and especially NOT our kiddos’ bodies.

I resolved to make Ranch dressing myself, and after much experimentation this is what I landed on.  It is kid and Ranch-loving-husband approved, and it’s been a family favorite for 5 years now.  I hope you guys love it too!

Print Recipe
Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Recipe
This recipe is flavorful and doesn't have any of the harmful chemicals of store bought Ranch. It is creamy and delicious over salads or veggies.
Servings
2 Tbsp servings
Ingredients
Servings
2 Tbsp servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a large glass measuring cup, combine milk and lemon juice, stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add sour cream and whisk well til the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Add all of the herbs and seasonings and whisk til thoroughly combined.
  4. Pour into a glass mason jar and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks! Be sure to shake before each use.
Recipe Notes

Note: this Ranch dressing has a thinner consistency to be pourable over salads. If you want a thicker consistency to be used as a Ranch dip, simply add more sour cream until you reach your desired thickness, and double up on the seasonings!

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As I said, this dressing will last up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator, however it never survives that long in our house because we eat it up so quickly!

Bonus tip: I am a total mason jar junkie and I love storing food in glass to avoid the toxins in plastics. I keep painter’s tape and a Sharpie marker in my kitchen junk drawer to label my food jars with contents and dates. Painter’s tape is easy to remove and doesn’t leave a sticky residue behind!

Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today.  Let me know what you think of the dressing when you try it!


Easy Pumpkin Chili Recipe With Ground Beef and Black Beans

 

This chili is one of my go to recipes when I need to get dinner on the table fast, or if I don’t want to dirty more than one pot, or if I want comfort food, or if I am going to a potluck.  So many reasons, because it’s great. I actually brought this to our friends’ Super Bowl party because it was requested, and it was a real crowd pleaser. Even the kiddos love it, and the best part of all is that it is SO easy to make, and requires no MSG-laden chili seasoning packets from the store. We especially love topping it with fixins like shredded cheese, sour cream and green onions, sometimes even avocado,but it’s good all on its own. I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does!

Print Recipe
Easy Pumpkin Chili Recipe With Ground Beef and Black Beans
This chili is thick, hearty and oh-so-satisfying on a cold day. Even the kiddos love it!
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
cups
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
cups
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Brown the ground beef in a heavy bottomed pot, then add chopped onions.
  2. Dump in the black beans, pumpkin and crushed tomatoes and stir well to combine.
  3. Add all of the spices, stir, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  4. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Tip: This chili tastes even better the next day so if you're making it for a pot luck, make it the day before and it in a crock pot.

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Einkorn Honey Pancakes Recipe

I’m generally a savory breakfast kind of person; I will almost always choose a big veggie omelet or breakfast sandwich over pancakes or waffles.  I just don’t have much of a sweet tooth in the mornings.  My kids on the other hand would eat pancakes every day if I let them, so while I would much rather fill them with protein and veggies every morning I do compromise on the weekends and I make them pancakes on Saturday mornings.  It’s something they look forward to every week, especially because they usually get to put their aprons on and help!

While we don’t have any gluten allergies in our house, we do notice a difference in our bodies when we avoid gluten versus eating modern wheat—even organic modern wheat.  Then we learned about einkorn flour and found that we didn’t get puffy or bloated or lethargic when we ate it.  It’s because it’s not a hybridized grain; it’s in its original, ancient form, just as God intended.  Its genetic structure is totally different from that of modern day wheat (organic or not); referred to as the original “staff of life” grain of biblical times, it has only 14 chromosomes.  Compare that to modern wheat’s 42 chromosomes.  So what does that mean?  It means its gluten structure is completely different from typical wheat making it MUCH easier for the human body to digest.

This means I can make my family a pancake breakfast and we don’t feel heavy or lazy after.  I have experimented with einkorn flour a lot over the past year or so.  (We buy Gary’s True Grit Einkorn flour from Young Living because I have visited one of the farms where it is grown and I love and trust the company and its integrity.)  I have found that the biggest difference when cooking and baking with einkorn versus conventional flour is that it requires less liquid, maybe about 20% less.  We also like the taste, although it doesn’t taste exactly the same as traditional flour.  We’re ok with that, and it is Jeffrey and Chloe approved.

When I’m trying to be good and avoid the organic cane sugar we love, I make pancakes with honey instead.  This is my tried and true recipe.  I hope you love it!

Print Recipe
Crystal's Einkorn Honey Pancakes
This pancakes use einkorn flour and are a bit healthier than their conventional flour counterparts, but they are kid approved!
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
pancakes
Ingredients
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
pancakes
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl beat the egg with a wire whisk and thoroughly mix in the oil and honey. Then add the milk and stir til well incorporated.
  2. Add the einkorn flour, salt and baking powder to the wet mixture and stir well with the whisk until all of the dry ingredients are well incorporated. The batter will be somewhat thick. This batter is a bit like gluten free batters in that it falls apart easily in the pan, so I like to make smaller pancakes with them using 1/8 c. scoops.
  3. Preheat a cast iron skillet and coat it well with butter over medium heat. Using a 1/8 cup measuring cup, scoop the batter on to the hot skillet and keep a watchful eye on them. Unlike a thinner batter, these won't bubble up in the middle when they're ready to flip, so you'll know you can flip them when they begin to look a little bit set. You can use a spatula to take a peek on the bottom of one and flip when it's nicely golden. Flip them and cook just a couple minutes more.
  4. Serve with butter and real maple syrup (or fruit or whatever you like) and enjoy!
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Thanks for reading, and if you like it please let me know or share it with your friends!