Monday, September 30, 2019

September Round Up

I cannot believe it's time for this post already. September absolutely flew by! Wow! We have decorated for fall, spent the cooler days outside, fallen into a somewhat normal school routine, and managed to survive the first full month of school. Hurray! 

Our temperatures have been above normal, even for Missouri, where it always seems like fall takes forever to get here. Nevertheless, we have had many days with somewhat cooler temperatures and for sure a lot less humidity. The boys and I walk to the park several times a week, just to get some time outside.

We've also had plenty of time in the backyard as temperatures cool off. We've had a couple of camp fires, and done all the campfire things like roasting marshmallows. Nights under the moon, around the fire, as a family are some of my favorite times.

And this picture of Kylo just cracks me up. I don't know what he was looking at it, but the look of shock on his face is priceless.

Swinging at sunset...

We spent an afternoon at Eagle Bluffs on a day when we were craving the outdoors, but it was too hot to hike. The boys were tired from a sleepover the night before, so they slept a lot of the way, and it turned out to be the perfect restful drive for all of us.

I wrote about the day in this blog post, which also links to many other posts I've written about this Conservation Area. It's one of my favorites!

This picture represents one of my poor parenting errors in judgement. And a very expensive one. First let me start by saying that there has been more than one time, when I've felt awful because I waited too long to take the boys to the doctor. One specific example was when one of the boys (I don't even remember which one!) had a cough and a fever and I thought for sure it was one of those moments when I was supposed to wait it out. By the time I actually took him to the doctor, it was pneumonia and a double ear infection! That was years ago and now I always, always take them to the doctor the second they get a fever with a cough - even though it's often viral and we're sent home to "wait it out."

Okay, so all that to say, that this situation was exactly the opposite of that. Eli came home from school with a swollen finger. He explained that at recess, he ran into another student, his finger came all the way forward, and he heard it snap. I should say in my defense, that Eli never complains about pain, especially hours after something happened. I also noticed that he was avoiding using his hand for anything. Common sense and modern parenting would advise one to come home, put ice on the injury, let him rest, and google symptoms of a broken finger. Had I done that, I could have prevented this very expensive trip to the ER. That's right. I took him straight to the ER - as in dropped Lex off with Jeremy and rushed straight there. Not even urgent care which would have been about a third of the cost. The emergency room - where we spent 2 hours waiting on 3 x-ray pictures only to confirm that there was in fact nothing wrong with his finger. By the time we walked out, the swelling had gone down and Eli was using his hand just fine. Ugh!  When this bill comes, it's going to be extremely painful - most definitely more painful than Eli's non-broken finger. Lesson learned? If your kid is breathing and not writhing in pain, you probably have time to google your kids symptoms to possibly save yourself several hundred dollars.

I will say that Eli did love the attention in the ER and the nurses absolutely loved him.

For some reason, I thought this was really funny. At the boys' school, they earn bucks for good behavior. They can use those bucks to buy things. One of the things they can buy is a new name for a day. I cracked up when Eli came home with this Mr. Flappy name tag on his shirt. Apparently, that's what he renamed himself and all day long, all his teachers and classmates had called him that. He seemed so proud to have come up with that name.

In the world of Cub Scouts, this month has been full of popcorn sales (SO NOT FUN) and earning new badges (definitely more fun). Lex is working on his art elective badge and spend one afternoon making some clay pumpkins.

Eli's working on his fishing badge which started with some online research about fishing regulations in Missouri.

We spent a day in Kansas City, exploring some of the sights. I wrote about that here. 

We've also settled into some cozy weekends at home, watching football and eating comfort food. Here are the links to some of the new recipes I tried.

Cheesy Spinach and Bacon Dip

Orange Chicken Quarters

Slow Cooker BBQ Green Beans

 Pumpkin Energy Balls

And finally, Eli snapped this picture of the clouds on the way from the store the other night. I am so, so grateful that he is observant and mindful of the world around him. 

October is upon us! Next month, I'll be posting Halloween costumes and all things fall!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

A Day in Kansas City

We've lived in Missouri for 12 years now and for 12 years, people from Missouri have told us we have to go visit Kansas City. And yet somehow, for 12 years, whenever we decide it's time for a road trip, we always head east or south instead of west.

Lex recently started working on his art elective badge for Cub Scouts, and one of the requirements was to visit a museum. A perfect reason to finally explore KC! We searched all the museums in Kansas City, (see trip advisor's list here) and Lex decided that the Museum of Illusions looked like the most fun. We picked out a couple of other things to do to fill our time, and just like that, we had a Saturday day trip all planned out.

First stop: Union Station

We parked in a parking garage right beside Union Station. We ended up walking underground through a parking garage maze, before we finally found a door to the basement of Union Station. We found the escalator up which delivered us right into Grand Hall.

As the name suggests, Union Station used to be a strain station. Now, it's a fantastic piece of architecture, home to a variety of cultural experiences for the entire family. Events and activities include traveling historical and art exhibits, museums (like the Museum of Illusions), Science City (which is definitely on our list for next time), and coffee shops. Right in the middle of it all is Harvey's restaurant where we ate for lunch.

In the basement of Union Station, you'll find the Museum of Illusions. It is small and doesn't take long to go through. Thank goodness when we went, there weren't a lot of other people. Most of the exhibits are interactive and if you went on a day when it was full of people, you might not get the whole experience.

There were different photo stations throughout the museum, where you stand on a camera sign to snap the perfect optical illusion. The picture below is one of those. There was also a worker who helped stage pictures or snap them for you if you needed him to.

A lot of the illusions were ones we had seen before in books or online, but it was fun to interact with the much larger version of them.

This one was really fun.

This tunnel made it feel like you were spinning even though you were walking on a stable platform. Jeremy and I both felt sick by the end of it. And it was only about 20 feet long.

We spent a couple of hours at Union Station, eating lunch, going through the Museum of Illusions, and browsing around. We had planned to walk the few blocks to our next stop, Crown Center, but the forecast was calling for rain. We were so excited to find a skywalk link that started at Union Station and went all the way to Crown Center. We didn't have to go outside at all!

The picture was taken from the skywalk.

And so was this picture of the Kansas City skyline.

The "link" took us through the Westin hotel lobby, and right into the shopping center at Crown Center.

We only spent a couple of hours at Crown Center and on the way home we were already planning a trip back here. There are two major hotels that are linked to all of the shops, loads of restaurants and unique local shops, Sea Life Kansas City Aquarium, Legoland, and a giant outdoor plaza with beautiful fountains. We loved the Crayola shop, Function Junction, Toy Time, and a chocolate shop. We could seriously spend a weekend in this place.

Just before it started raining, we went outside to watch the fountains.

Just after we snapped the fountain pictures, it started pouring. We made it inside without getting rained on and were grateful for an indoor walkway to take us all the way back to our parking garage. After so much walking, we were exhausted!

We headed home, but not without getting a glimpse of Kaufman Stadium, home to the Kansas City Royals.

We just touched a glimpse of all the things we'd like to do in Kansas City. It was definitely good to get a feel for the layout of the city. We can't wait to go back and explore some more!

Happy day tripping! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Pumpkin Energy Balls

It's that time of year when even our evenings are often packed with activities. It's not quite as bad as it used to be since neither of the boys are on sports teams right now. But there are still plenty of activities to keep us busy enough to make cooking every evening a challenge. Some weeks are better than others. If I have a few slow evenings, I can pull together a decent menu and grocery shop for actual ingredients to make food. If the week is really busy, grocery shopping is typically done without a list and a hope and a prayer that I've bought enough food for the week. Those kinds of weeks make for boring meals. 

These pumpkin energy balls are exactly the kind of snack that is nice to have on hand for those weeks when we might otherwise be filling up on chicken nuggets and tater tots. They are nice because they are healthy, they freeze, and just one or two can be filling. I've taken these on hikes before and love taking a couple to work with me, just in case I can't stop for lunch. I feel like it's important to say that my boys don't love this version in particular, but they do love other kinds of energy balls. 

Here are the ingredients for this very easy recipe.
1 1/2 cups of peanut butter
1 cup pumpkin puree (you can also use mashed sweet potato)
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup flax seeds
Optional - honey

Stir all the ingredients together.

Roll into balls.

Chill and or freeze, and grab one or two when you need a quick snack.

That's seriously it. So easy. So yummy. So filling.