Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Get Wet Or Go Home...Our Day at Whale's Tale!

If you read the previous post, you got a little background to how the day started out. 
I'm happy to report that everything just got better and better!

So where was this surprise trip? ? ?
The Whale's Tale Water Park, an hour north in Lincoln, NH! Right in the heart of the White Mountain region- so gorgeous!
Here's a photo recap....

Shipwrecked Island Splash Park

Which translates to Totally Awesome Gonna-Get-Soaked-Wherever-You-Go Park

Then off to something a bit speedier...

Slides + Tubes + Giggling & Screaming Kids = A Really Fun Time!

Finally came the adrenaline part of the park...
OhMyGosh! SOOOOOOOO fast and scary and FUN!

I kept having to back up more and more in order to get this whole set up in the picture! It was so high! Just look at the beautiful mountain scenery everywhere in the background! 

This was called The Eye of the Storm- you zoom down the tunnel part of the slide and then reach this funnel-type part where you go around and around until you finally just DROP into the pool below!
 Round and round and...
 Caleb did this attraction at least 15 times! He became pals with the teens who worked the gates and went over safety instructions, and by the end, they joked that he could do their job! HaHa!

 this pic gives a little more perspective of how high up it is!

Ethan zipped through really fast- I blinked and he'd already plunged in the pool!
Gotta love centrifugal force at work!

I didn't do that ride because everyone said it kills your back. But I did do this one...
Whoa Nelly! That may not look that intense, but I promise you, it FEELS intense!
You shoot through a tunnel (really fast if your preteen son is rocking the tube a ton!) and then get catapulted onto this huge arc and you go so high you think you're going to sail straight off the top of the thing! Boy does your ticker perk up on this ride! And your stomach flies into your throat too. Good times!

These two pictures absolutely crack me up! Look at those faces!

They came off this ride whooping it up and high five-ing...every mother loves to see that kind of brotherhood bond between her sons, and I'll treasure these pictures forever.

We'd read that if you go to the park on a day with an "iffy" forecast, you'd avoid big crowds, and waiting in long lines for the rides. This was the best tip ever! We felt like we had the whole park to ourselves! It was a wee bit chilly when we first arrived, and thankfully, there was a ginormous whale-shaped pool that was heated (how cute!). We lived in that pool for the first hour or so! The sun made a few appearances, but we didn't mind the clouds at all. Whenever we got too cold, we'd make a run for the whale pool and warm right up! It was so much fun!  After lunch, it got hotter so all those cold rides felt great!

Oh, and here is my public service announcement for all you fair-skinned folks:
Why yes, you WILL get burned even when the sun isn't beating down on you, so don't get stingy with the sunscreen! Some of us are still learning that lesson the hard way, ahem.

Here we are at the end of the day...
...happy and exhausted!
Nice cover-up tunic, right?  hee hee

A day like this is a bit of a splurge for a bigger family like ours, but we saved money where we could by bringing in our own snacks and lunch (there are plenty of tables and chairs to use- great!), and checking out their Facebook page where Bill discovered that honor roll students receive half-price admission tickets! This was also the first year that there was a coupon in the NH Breathe Free Fun Pass book, so we got a half-price ticket for Isabelle, too! We also took advantage of the "shoulder season" which offers lower admission tickets, so we saved about $100 total! Score!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer Surprise #1!

Summer is in full swing and we've been spending lots of time here....

...which I luuuuuuuuuve!

But TODAY we're gearing up for a full day of water slides, wading pools & splash park FUN! I am so excited...this trip has been on our summer list for three years' running now, and this year I get to cross it off! Hooray!

Of course, Lukey went MIA last night so I hardly slept a wink because I was so worried. Poor Sneakers just roamed the house meowing and crying- he missed Luke so much! At 3 AM, I couldn't just lay there any longer and puttered around downstairs making sandwiches, going around our yard calling for the little rascal, and working on a summer tunic/swimsuit cover-up.
Well...Luke appeared on the porch steps at 4:13, lunch is all set, AND I finished the tunic and it actually fits! Score! Plus, I even like it! Double score! I think it's going to be a fantastic day! 

As if on cue, Caleb just wrapped his little arms around my neck and told me how much he loves our big surprise for the day! Fantastic day!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Recipe Share - The Perfect {Healthier} Blueberry Muffin

Everybody loves a yummy muffin, and blueberry muffins are just about the best things on earth! I'm sharing the recipe I've adapted from the first cookbook I ever owned, my beloved Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, a wedding gift.  :)

This modified recipe uses less sugar and adds a little extra nutrition.
Are you ready? ? ?

Here's what you'll need:

1 3/4 cups King Arthur or other unbleached flour
1 tbsp ground flax seed
generous dash wheat germ
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
dash sea salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
heaping dollop of sour cream
1/4 cup cooking oil
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
cooking spray or muffin pan liners

Here's what you do:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and line or spray muffin pan
  • In medium mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients
  • In a different mixing bowl, mix together milk, oil and egg; add to dry ingredients and stir gently
  • Add dollop of sour cream to mixture, then blueberries. Stir gently again- lumps are fine, and batter will be thick!
  **BEWARE- if using frozen blueberries, your batter will turn purple!**
  • Spoon batter into pan or liners- we use a cookie scoop. It's so easy the kids can do it on their own!
  • Place in oven and IMMEDIATELY reduce oven temp to 400 degrees. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Let cool for a few minutes, top with a pat of butter, and dive right in! YUM! The sour cream gives the muffin a rich flavor and texture, the wheat germ and flax seed give an extra nutritional boost, and preheating the oven to 450 lets the muffins rise really high like those sold in bakeries and pastry shops....just don't forget to turn the temperature back down to 400! I speak from experience, folks. Those muffins were not, well, so yummy.

This recipe makes a dozen muffins, and it doubles well. Enjoy!

Kristen F asked a great question: what about using wheat flour?
I must admit I dislike the texture of the muffins with only wheat flour; HOWEVER, sometimes I substitute 1/2 cup or so of the unbleached flour with wheat flour and don't notice much of a difference. Thanks Kristen!  =)

I should also point out that these muffins are definitely not sweet- you won't mistake them for a cupcake, ha! You could add a little honey, or...AGAVE NECTAR! Have you heard of it? I saw the young, cute doctor on that midday Doctors show talking about the benefits of switching out sugar for agave nectar, so I got some and have been sweetening with it ever since. A little goes a long way!

Friday, June 22, 2012

SUMMER 2012 LIST & Our First Heat Wave!

I've been too busy with the kiddos to post our summer list! We're having our first official heat wave, so we've been outta here this week!

Yesterday we beat the heat with Mimi at Hampton Beach...

 Those two were in the water the WHOLE time! Just like their Mama! 

Our count for the day was 1 hermit crab, a dozen or more crabs & 5 starfish!
I don't know why, but we'd never brought our goggles to the ocean before yesterday, and they found all that underneath our feet while swimming! Cool and kinda scary at the same time!

Mr. Too Cool for Words and Mimi

Little Sassy Pants took to the boogie board and was a champ! She looked so cute and giggled SO loud!

There's just something about that little black cuff on her wrist that just kills me! It looked so stinking cute on her!

I will always remember how much fun I had with my Mom, getting smacked in the face by ginormous waves more than once, I might add, ha! We just laughed and laughed all day long! I love my Mom!
Ethan did a great job with the picture, right?

We got to the beach early, mainly because I was trying out my new NH State Park license plate and wasn't sure how big the parking lot was at this particular beach, so I was anxious about not finding a parking spot, AND that they wouldn't let us in for free with the new plates. Plenty of parking and FREE FREE FREE! Great way to start out a sticky hot day!
The tide was out and there were miles of sandy real estate when we arrived. By noon, the tide was almost in, and all you could see were people, more people, and millions of colorful umbrellas set up along the shore line. Crazy! But we had a blast!
I should've snapped a picture from our car, looking down over the sea of umbrellas- it looked so neat!  =)

I'm trying to enjoy a slow, peaceful morning at home, but my crew is not exactly making that easy. Argh. That's my nice way of saying they're driving me crazy. At least it's Friday!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

We spoiled Daddy with his favorite scrambled egg and potato bake and blueberry donuts for breakfast...yum! We were blessed with such a beautiful day so we spent most of it outside riding bikes, walking Ryder, playing ball in the backyard, and just having fun being together as a family. Our children are very fortunate to have such a wonderful Dad! He works so hard to provide everything we need and want, and he always tells them how much he loves them, and he's there for them, in so many ways. We just love him more than anything! Happy Father's Day, Bill!

And warm Father's Day wishes to my Daddy, who has always stood by me and still calls me his special angel, and to my sweet father-in-law, who has treated me like his own daughter from the very beginning. I know I am very blessed to have these caring, honorable, godly men in my life!

Here are a few snapshots of our fun day!

 Someone is suddenly too cool to go swimming with the rest of us. Sigh.
Well, we were actually the cool ones while he was sweating buckets in the hot sun, ha ha!

Oh this girl! She has been wearing. me. out lately! Tantrums, screaming fits, strong wills oh my!
But you'd never guess it from looking at that precious little smile, would you? She was so funny today though when she kept telling her Daddy "Happy Balentime's Day!" I guess she got a little confused.  =)

She is also growing up too fast, and she's losing some of my favorite little mispronunciations. That absolutely kills me! Just tonight, she asked me something about a basket. And she said the word, BASKET- normally it's something like "bax-sket" and that's exactly the way I want to still hear it! The other day she was counting and she said "three" instead of "flee" and I nearly choked! But then she counted in Spanish and still said "flais" for "tres," so I swallowed, smiled, and decided I'll never tell her the difference.  :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

School's Out!

Yup, with hardly any snow this winter, school is out early this year! I took the brood to Newfound Lake for the day yesterday to celebrate- I even had my camera with me but I was too lazy having too much fun to take pictures with it. The water was so clear, the views so spectacular, and I loved laying around in the warm sand for the first time in many months. We also loved the fuzzy little ducklings that kept hanging out with us! There is just something irresistible about baby ducks, eek! :)
Of course I forgot half our lunch in the fridge, and the snack shop wasn't open takes me a few trips to get back in the groove of summer.

Baseball season is officially over. I'm proud of my boys, but the truth is, they had a lousy team and a coach who refused to actually, um, coach! It has little to do with wins and losses. It's just...well, it's over, and as my Mama taught me, if you have nothing good to say, then zip it. So I'm zippin'. Isabelle, on the other hand, had a WONDERFUL t-ball coach, and she had so much fun!

At least it's fun to goof around with the ump when it's your Dad!

Today we celebrated my niece's high school graduation, and it was such a beautiful day! It was also wonderful seeing my family under happier circumstances than the ones last week when we said goodbye to my uncle. Speaking of school, I am really proud of our boys for having such a great year and working so hard!

Jonah in the orchestra and band during the last school concert- his class did a fantastic job! He also sang in the chorus- he sings with gusto and I love it! He later told me that the boy behind him kept poking him hard in the back during the whole chorus part, but you'd never have known it by watching Jonah- he didn't draw attention to himself in any way, but I may have secretly wished he'd turned around and slugged the kid. Just a little. I have no tolerance for that kind of stuff, and I wish other parents felt the same way.

Bill got to chaperone Jonah's field trip to the Boston Museum of Science- that was a long day, but they had so much fun together! Bill filled in for me for Ethan's field trip when I was having those girl problems and couldn't go, so now it's sort of tradition that Dad goes with the boys on this trip. I think that's so neat!

We've had such beautiful weather in the evenings...I love times like these...

We also celebrated Bill's birthday, twice, ha!

I pinned a chocolate cake recipe for his party, and it did NOT disappoint! I'll have to share the recipe.
We called this Happy-Death-By-Chocolate Cake

I've been so fortunate to have some exciting business adventures with my nightgowns and these...

We're having a low-key kind of night now after being out of the house all day yesterday and today. We had our annual First Saturday of Summer dinner- yum! And now everyone is watching a movie in the other room, so I'm off!
What a great start to SUMMER 2012! Tomorrow we'll be making our Summer List!  =)
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