Category Archives: Uncategorized

Gluten & Dairy Free Cookies

I’ve had a gluten allergy for about 15 years, so we’ve got endless recipes for all of our favorite goodies but baby #3 came along and brought the challenge of a dairy allergy. So we’re slowing learning how to recreate our favorites, as well as discover new ones that are friendly to both of our tummies. These two are easy to make and don’t require a huge list of ingredients like many we’ve made in the past.

Triple Chocolate Cookies
1 Box Aldi Brownie Mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil/vegan butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup Pascha or Enjoy Life chocolate chips
1/2 cup Pascha white chocolate chips

Mix the brownie mix, oil, and eggs. Once mixed, add in chocolate chips. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Note: the dough will feel very oily if you use vegetable oil, but once baked the cookies will lose their oily feel.

Gluten & Dairy free cookies

Peanut Butter Blossoms
1 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup gfdf flour (optional)
2bfree foods sunbutter cups

Mix the pb, egg, and sugar. Add flour if the dough is too runny. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Place chocolate on top of cookie immediately after pulling out of the oven.

As a mom of three, I hate having to hop from specialty store to store to find all of our gluten and dairy free needs. Want to make your shopping even easier? Check out Amazon groceries or Amazon Fresh – groceries delivered to your door!

Splendid Spoon Giveaway

The holiday season is upon us and we’re all caught up in the hustle and bustle. If you’re like me, you had amazing intentions but absolutely overbooked yourself this season and are ready to reset in 2020. I’ve been trying to prioritize my schedule and figure out what are my top priorities, as well as what are tasks that can be outsourced? There is only one of me and I’m learning time is more precious than money.

I love cooking, but lets be real…the monotony of daily prep gets old real quick, especially when there are multiple food allergies and picky eaters. On weeks that feel extra overbooked, I meal prep for the kids on Saturday/Sunday and reward myself with meals from Splendid Spoon. 5 smoothies (breakfast), 5 grain bowls/soups for lunch, and then we all eat the meal prepped foods for dinner. Sometimes I just need the break from my own cooking, because after awhile my ideas get stale.

Splendid Spoon is way more than just smoothies. Check out the new grain bowls.
Featured: Taco Bowl

Chocolate Cherry Smoothies, Tikka Masala, and the very best curry soup….all plant based, (mostly) organic, gluten free, and delivered to my door?! Whats not to love? I know there is hesitation about being a picky eater or fear of subscriptions, but luckily for you, Splendid Spoon has an online portal that makes skipping weeks, customizing your menu, and cancelling easy pease lemon squeezy.

I’m so in love with their meals, I’m going to help one of YOU win a free week’s worth. Head over to my Instagram from December 23-27th, 2019 and be sure to enter. Now, if you’re a giveaway hater like my husband, I’ve got something for you too :

use the link splendid.to/christina to get $50 off your first order. That means 5 bowls and 5 smoothies for $45!!

Smoothies delivered frozen so you can eat for the week or leave in the freezer and pull them out on your busiest days.

Seriously, what are you waiting for?

Treat yourself! You deserve a break in the kitchen and your body deserves something that tastes good and makes you feel good! CLICK HERE for your first discounted order.

Gluten and Dairy free snacks for kids

As a homeschooling mom of three, constantly on the go, bouncing between dance, soccer, playdates, and frequently traveling I keep a well stocked diaper bag. It is important to me to have quality products with healthy ingredients, gluten and dairy free, and those that can survive the southern heat without melting into a puddle. Below are some of our favorite staples to keep the hangries away.

*Some links may include referral codes that generate money to support this growing blog and my growing family. The reviews are all my own*

Lola Snacks

We love these glutenfree, vegan probiotic bars that taste like an oatmeal cookie. Use “glutenfreefamilyadventures” at lolasnacks.com to get 20% off your order.

Bee Free Granola

These little granola bags are perfect for snacking.

Natierra

Freeze dried fruit is one of our favorites to leave in the car. We don’t have to worry about it melting and its a sweet and healthy snack to balance out all the granola bars.

Fruit pouches and applesauce

Applesauce at the house and fruit pouches on the go. We don’t have a particular brand we’re attached to, but love when there is no added sugar; such as GoGoSqueeze, Wackyapple, and Aldi brand.

Splendid Spoon

Busy moms run on Splendid Spoon.
Gluten free and vegan smoothies and meals prepped and delivered to your door.
Get $50 off this plant based delivery service using:
splendid.to/christina
First order is only $45 for 5 smoothies and 5 soups or grain bowls

Rule breakers

Brownies made with beans
Kid tested, mother approved

France and Italy for Kids

We’re lucky enough to have a well stocked library with an updated collection, but when they don’t have what we need, we listen on epic, youtube, or purchase our spines and other long lasting books from amazon. Thriftbooks is also an option, but amazon is super competitive in pricing and tends to be more likely to have things in stock.

With a history of famous artists and the year of enlightenment, we stumbled into a week overflowing with artists and the use of simple machines, so this week was heavy in the realm of art and science.

SCIENCE:
S4P3. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the relationship between balanced and unbalanced forces.
a.Plan and carry out an investigation on the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on an object and communicate the results.
b.Construct an argument to support the claim that gravitational force affects the motion of an object.
c.Ask questions to identify and explain the uses of simple machines (lever, pulley, wedge, inclined plane, wheel and axle, and screw) and how forces are changed when simple machines are used to complete tasks.(Clarification statement:The use of mathematical formulas is not expected.)

  1. Media:
    1. Mystery Science: Forces
      1. Tug of War
      2. Slides
      3. Roller coaster videos and create a roller coaster challenge
  2. Hands on:
    1. Simple machines with Kiwi Co (arcade game, disc shooter, ec )
    2. Draw simple machines that you see in everyday life. Then use simple machines to complete a task (compare with and without).
    3. Read about Davinci (Neo Leo) and discuss the idea of things that stop us from succeeding and how we build on others ideas to reach success.
    4. Gravity Maze a fun game to challenge your child to build a maze while using gravity to move the ball from start to finish
    5. Create a roller coaster using a pool noodle. Provide challenges such as create a roller coaster with one hill, two hills, a taller 2nd hill, a taller 1st hill, etc. Make sure you have a way to “end” your roller coaster so the marble doesn’t fly off the end. Feel free to include challenges by changing the ball (wooden, large, small, glass marble, etc). This is a wonderful challenge to encourage the idea of design, test, and revise. There will be failures. Take the time to talk about why things worked AND why they did NOT. Need a little more guidance, look here.
  3. Books: 
    1. Neo Leo (all about Davinci’s ideas that led to modern technology. Also includes “code” that Davinci used to write in)
Stem for kids, click here for a discount code

ART:
We decided to dive in deep with this one and studied a wide variety of artists and styles. We read countless books, watch videos, mimicked originals, tested new styles, and then compiled it all together to create our own “art museum” complete with hor ‘uerves and desserts from France and Italy. We invited friends to join us by contributing a food item, beverage, or art piece and then invited the families to join us for a night of art, food, and music. The artists created self portraits and biographies so they could be properly introduced before our guests toured the “museum”.

There are so many artists to choose from so take longer and go deeper, but for now these are a few that we studied; Michaelangelo, Leonardo Davinci, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, and Artemisla Gentileschi with focus on Renaissance art , impressionism, and

  1. Media:
    1. Art with Mati & Dada cartoon series features many artists in a format great for kids
    2. Tate Kids art films for kids, such as What do Henri Matisse’s collages mean?
  2. Books:
    1. Use books by Eric Carle to discuss the similarities between his work and Matisse, as he was an inspiration for much of his art. Great time to discuss how we can use the ideas of others to create our own style.
  3. Hands on (Inspiration)
    1. Mona Lisa spinoff, use the template to help students create their own Mona Lisa without the intimidation of starting from scratch
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Galapagos Island and Evolution for Kids

Each week, my kids pick a country to explore. This week’s pick: The Galapagos Island. What better place could there be than these incredible islands to dive a little deeper into the discussion adaptations to discuss evolution.

Science: 

  1. Octonauts: Marine Iguanas (netflix)
  2. Star Stuff: carl Sagan and the myseries of the cosmos
  3. Annabelle & Aiden: The Story of LIfe
  4. Older Than the Stars by Karen Fox
  5. Grandmother Fish: A Child’s First Book of Evolution by Karen Lewis ( we weren’t huge fans of this)
  6. Island: A Story of the Galapagos (great story of evolution)
  7. Hands on: Speckled moth lab
  8. Hands on:Bird beak lab
  9. Reflect: after the labs/books: pick an animal and write about the adaptations that were made over the years to better adapt to the island (finch, tortoise, penguins, etc)

SS/Culture/Geography: 

  1. Rebel Girls: Cholita Climbers pg. 36
  2. Darwin was an expert sailor. Great opportunity to learn knot tying and talk about how improper knots could lead to disaster
  3. Read: Where are the Galapagos Islands?
  4. Read: Who was Charles Darwin?

Just for fun media:

  1. Bucket List Family in the Galapagos Wk64 & Week 113
  2. National Geographic clip
  3. Plastic in Paradise (great for a conversation on how humans are impacting the environment)

Create a makerspace: Robot building for kids

While touring through Italy and France this week in our homeschool journey in , we did an artist study on the art and inventions of Leonardo Davinci. We read Neo Leo and talked about how many of his projects were “failures” in his lifetime but that they went on to be life changing successes for the world we live in today. We decided to try our own luck at building and purchased the Giggleway Robot from amazon.

Directions with pictures for clarification

Pros:
1. I love that this kit comes with multiple projects so that both my kids can have their own project or they can choose to work together.
2. $25 for the kit was worth it to see the teamwork that came as a result. The parts are small, so the kids had to be very careful in handling the parts and while assembling. Due to the meticulous manner in which they must work, what appeared to be a 5 minute project took a good amount of time, as they carefully poured of the directions and worked together.
3. My kids were absolutely delighted by the final product!
4. Its available on amazon so whats not to love about prime shipping

Assembling

Cons:
1. Parts are super small and hard to work with. I am the first to give my kids a project rated for older ages, but I do agree with Giggleway that this is best suited for ages 8+ or best partnered with a parent. You may want to be on standby, no matter what age, to assist when needed or to help clarify directions.

Assembling may require assistance due to the small parts.

It is challenging for my own kids to come up with their own inventions, so this was a great way to dive into a project where they had a little more guidance. From here, we had so much fun talking about what worked well and how we could improve on the design. The build helped them see a machine from the very tiny pieces to the final product, which helped them begin to come up with their own ideas on designs. I can’t wait to see what Giggleway comes up with next.

Almost complete

We liked it so much, we reached out and asked for a discount for our followers. If you want to give robot building a try, be sure to use the coupon code: 8GSREYCS for 50% off your order at https://amzn.to/31fK5BV

Disclosure: I am a homeschooling mom blogger that may receive compensation from some of the links. I test each product thoroughly and give my own opinions. I do not promote items that my own family does not use and enjoy.

Is Splendid Spoon worth the money?

Try Splendid Spoon and get $50 off your first order!

I don’t normally invest in meal delivery services because I have a large family to feed and with my frugal ways can make some pretty awesome meals for little money. HOWEVER, with a traveling husband and picky kids, sometimes I just want to hand my kids a pb&j and sit back and eat something that tastes great while nourishing my tired as a mother self.

I signed up with Splendid Spoon because I first and foremost, gluten free food is a must in this house, but I also loved the unique flavors and plant based meals. While we are not a vegan family, we try very hard to have plant based meals at the center of our meal planning. Whenever I treat myself to something, I try to splurge on something on I don’t know how to make or something that my kids would refuse to eat so that it is worth the spend.

Busy can be healthy

Smoothies:
I’ve tried Splendid Spoon a few times now and love the ease of the breakfast ready to go. I teach english online from 6-9am, prior to beginning our homeschool day, and love being able to sip on a smoothie before or in between classes. Paired with my morning coffee, the smoothies hold me over until lunchtime.

As is typical with my life, I thought anything with the word chocolate in it would be my favorite but I was surprised by how much I love all the green smoothies which is generally way more my husband’s speed.

Favorite flavors include: Power Greens, Plant Based probiotic (think lemon and coconut), Green Matcha, Blackberry Basil, and of course a chocolate had to make its way into the favorites list with Chocolate Cherry. Only cons on the smoothies would be Cacao Almond, the flavor is awesome but the chunks of cacao and nuts doesn’t work for me. I want a smooth creamy sip.

Splendid Spoon Smoothies

Soups:
If my husband is traveling the soup is all mine, but often I split it into two servings and serve with garlic toast and a side salad. Its just an easy way for a light, refreshing meal, without sweating in the kitchen over a big pot of soup. The soups have been another surprise for me, as I’ve fallen in love most with flavors I’ve never even heard of.

Favorite soups include: Red Beet Buddha Bowl, Masala Khichri, Kabocha Congee, Carrot Lentil Curry, Cauliflower Tikka and Green Gazpacho. In colder months, I like to cook up a big pot of rice using the gazpacho as the broth and serve with black beans or grilled chicken. It gives the rice such an insanely scrumptious flavor!

Grain bowls:
WHAT?!? I just got the email that these are releasing THIS week as I’m writing this post. I can’t give an opinion yet, but just you wait…. My love for grain bowls is equivalent to my husband’s insane love for soups year round.  I’m so excited for these. I mean check out these flavors!

What now?
Not sure if Splendid Spoon is right for you?

Click this link for $50 off your first order and try it for yourself. $45 for 5 soups and 5 smoothies cooked and delivered to your door.

That’s a price that can’t be beat. Plus, Splendid Spoons customer service as been nothing but amazing. If you are unhappy, customize your meals differently or cancel your subscription with ease. 

BIG DISCOUNTS for your first order!

Wanna see what else we’re eating? Find us on instagram

Disclosure: I am a food blogger that may receive compensation from some of the links. I test each product thoroughly and give my own opinions. I do not promote items that my own family does not use and enjoy.

3rd Grade Math Escape Room

My husband and I did an escape room with some friends while on vacation and fell in love with the the mind provoking fun. I surprised him with this at home version. We are planning to have some friends over for a game night and will report back since this game is a one time use. I felt a little bummed when I saw it was only a one timer since I misread the details online (19 activities, not 19 different plays), but then quickly remembered that this at home version is infinitely cheaper than a night out.

I am guilty of finding a new hobby and wanting to do it on the repeat (sorry honey), so this idea quickly took over my brain and now my kids have their very own escape room at home. I love the idea of using these in the classroom or as a homeschool mama to bring fun back into learning. You can find my latest escape for 3rd graders here. Your kids will hardly notice their doing math, as they problem solve through higher order multistep problems to escape the lovebugs. escapethelovebugspreview

This would be perfect as a review for before testing or a great way to make math more engaging on Valentine’s Day when finishers are rewarded with a sweet treat.

We covered these skills 3.MD.D.8, 3.OA.D.8, MP1 but are always up for the challenge of creating new games.

In the comments, drop what standards you would like seen covered?

Let’s Play Math

When I started homeschooling my son, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into.

I had been a 5th grade math and science teacher for a decade, but teaching your own children is a different beast. You see, my kids are perfect angels at school, and while still good for me, they let they’re more carefree side show in mama’s presence. I won’t complain because I know this is they’re safe place, but I knew creating a space for learning would have to look different than it did in my public school classroom.36223065_10108233436304492_3775347961957974016_o

My daughter is super studious and loves to learn. She pours over books, plays school tirelessly, and writes books and agendas for fun. My son, on the other hand, has always been a little more free spirited. While he’s always been on track, I never thought of him as an advanced learner. That all changed when our life became the classroom. With a month, my 4 year old was reading and his math skills were off the charts.

I turned every standard into a game and met him where he was at. I had a 4 year old who loved to play, why not just play with him? Some people disagree that learning must take place in the old fashioned way with paper and pencil, but with a decade in the classroom, my observations are far more wide spread than through my lens as a mother. I reflected back on my time in the classroom and recognized the things I did that truly made gains with my students.
*games
*hands-on activities
*escape rooms
*discussion based learning
*reading for fun
*allowing students the chance to see their self worth through conversations, growth mindset, literature, activities that nurture their non-acaedmic talents, etc

 

I began to see him as a learner who grew when he was engaged and having fun and nothing was fun about a worksheet, nothing was fun about writing when his poor little hands hadn’t developed the fine motor skills yet to master proper pencil holding. All that would come, IN TIME. jan_4121b

Imagine a classroom where you meet a kid where they’re at, engage them in lessons they want to learn, and modify when things aren’t going well. While that is the goal of every public school teacher, with a classroom of 22 (sometimes x 6) that’s just not feasible to meet all students where they’re at. Enter the beauty of homeschooling. You, the parent, can serve as the teacher and modify the lesson to meet the exact needs of your child.

If I learned nothing else as a teacher, I learned that when kids love learning, they will learn so much more. Challenge yourself to stop when things aren’t going well. If you feel frustrated or they feel frustrated, give yourself the grace to pause and ask “do we need to persevere or can we find a new approach?” I thought my son struggled with math until I pulled the board games out. Questions that had once made him cry were easily answered when it meant that Captain American could avoid the chutes and climb the ladder. PLUS, who doesn’t want to spend a day cozied up playing board games with their kids?

Maui with Kids

In late August, my husband and I stumbled upon some crazy cheap airline tickets to Hawaii – $400 from Atlanta to Maui – um, YES PLEASE.

We quickly searched for rentals and decided it was too good to pass up. You see, in September, when all the kiddos go back to school, the prices on tourism driven places drops significantly. We snagged a beautiful two bedroom condo right on the beach for half off. Tucked on the Maalaea Bay, away from the popular tourist filled hotels, we found our own little slice of paradise. It was less than a mile from the aquarium and a great place to base out of for our daily excursions.

Booking so last minute gave us the crazy idea to keep our trip a surprise. So we researched and planned and NEVER told the kids. Then on Sept 19, we woke them at the crack of dawn.

“Do you guys want to skip school today?”
(half asleep) “yeaaaa”
“Great, you have ten minutes to pack a bag, we’re heading to the airport.” and then we walked out of the room.

The night before we had packed our one suitcase for our family of 5 and were ready to roll out. When we arrived at the airport, we gave them a folder with riddles and activities. In order to discover our destination, they had to complete the puzzles. The kicker is we flew to San Fransisco first and with a 7hour layover, decided to spend the day exploring. After lunch, we had the kids complete one more activity which told them we were going back to the airport and heading to MAUI! ❤ ❤ ❤

With our condo directly on the beach and our bodies wired for EST, we woke early every morning to sunrise on the beach and were ready to crash not much after sunset on the beach. We got our beach fill that way (and stayed sunburn free) and spend the rest of the days exploring the amazing wonders of the island.

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Day 1: arrive at 7:30pm. RUN to Costco, stock up, head home to crash. Costco is your best bet for inexpensive grocery shopping and it is a mile from the airport, making access super easy. There is also a food truck market across the street. If you arrive during the day, stop by. There are so many great local eats with amazing pricing. Everywhere else on the island is pricey.

FUN GF costco items: Kona dark chocolate macademia nuts and Teriyaki Pork Jerky

Day 2: Drive around the area, enjoy the pool, and head to the movie theater to meet The Bucket List family at the Smallfoot premiere. THIS was a major highlight for my kids since they dream of their own bucket list. If you don’t already follow this family, be sure to check them out on youtube or instagram. Their videos are such a great way to introduce your own kids to different parts of the world while encouraging bravery and kindness.42672707_10108531126979992_6770476318157963264_o

Day 3: Iao Valley (easy, friendly hike for all ages) and then we spent the afternoon wandering around Lahaina, checking out the big banyan trees, and eating all the yummy Pork and Fish tacos at the Fish market.

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Day 4 (sat): We stopped at the Swap meet over by the University and fueled up on coconut water and the most delicious Brazilian Cheese bread. This swap meet is a must for anyone looking for souvenors. The vendors supply to a lot of the retail shops, so you can shop here and save a lot of money. The kids found $1 bracelets for their friends and beautiful Hawaiian outfits for their American girl dolls. 42274495_10108514244228162_3600743964983951360_o

We then worked our way over to the Wai’hee Ridge Valley Trail.

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Now unlike Iao Valley, this is a moderate hike. Roughly 4 miles round trip, I would highly recommend lots of water and some snacks. We made it about 3 miles because we didn’t want to break the kids and it was worth every.single.step of the journey. 7,000 foot views allow you to see down into the ridge and out over the ocean. It was truly remarkable. We had a rule for the kids, no whining. If they had a problem, they could say it IF they also had a solution.

Ex. I’m tired, can I take a nap.
I’m hungry, may I have a snack.

This magical rule changed the hike and we all made it ❤42675061_10108530965059482_4295119372202016768_o

Day 5: Haleakala – Don’t complain – just set your alarm early, make the 2 hour drive and enjoy sunrise 10,000 feet up in the clouds. DRESS WARM. You are in the clouds and that high of elevation means a massively different climate than down below.

Be sure to grab a pass ($1.50) to get in, as the park no limits visitors at sunrise so everyone can enjoy the view. Passes sell quickly but at 4pm each day they release more tickets online for 48 hours out. Its a national park, so bring your annual pass or pay $25 for admission. If early mornings aren’t your thing, don’t worry, Haleakala is beautiful all day! On your way down, be sure to stop at the first overpass for a closer look into the crater.42723696_10108531128082782_7425799374459895808_o

Head into the Ranger station and let the kids experience becoming a junior range.

Afterwards, we head into Kihei where the boys enjoyed beer and we enjoyed the outside cornhole sets and then we headed to Coconuts for some seriously delicious Fish Tacos. This was one of my favorites and so gluten free friendly.

Day 6: Road to Hana

There is so much to see, so download The Shaka Guide app on your phone. Based on GPS, he’ll talk you through all the highlights, give history on the area, and help you time out your trip to maximize your experience. He told us about some gems, we surely would have driven past, such as the Gulch.

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Day 7: We decided to take it easy on our final day and let the kids choose our activities. They wanted a beach day, so we did a quick costco run for souveniors and a gas fuelup and grabbed the most amaaaazing Kalua Pork from Da Kitchen. This restaurant is a popular one, so we ordered our food to go and enjoy it at home.

Maui was everything and so much more than I ever imagined it could be.

#Worldschoolingtips
We wanted to make sure the kids knew our choice to travel during the school year was not a reflection of our disregard for education but rather a way to enhance it. They had many activities to complete,  but with the beauty of the island we had many discussions on the types of rocks, we scouted our igneous rocks, and climbed the now dormant volcano, Haleakala. We kept an eye out for native animals and plants and fell in love with the sight of turtles, manta rays, three horned chameleons, and much more. In addition to our schooling, the kids completed a daily journal and brought along both fiction and nonfiction books to further experience Hawaii.  These were great for the long days in the car, the flight, and downtime between activities.

BOOKS : NONFICTION
1. Kids travel journal
2. Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #28: High Tide in Hawaii
3. Hawaii’s Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever
FICTION
4. Magic Treehouse: High Tide in Hawaii
5. American Girl Series: Growing Up with Aloha
6. Junie B Jones: aloha-ha

GLUTEN FREE FAVORITES:
1. Fish Market in Lahaina – fish and kalua pork tacos (not pictured because I inhaled it like a fatkid)
2.Da Kitchen – Kalua Pork, DO IT!SEP_8289
3. Coconut’s Fish Tacos covered in coconut milk slaw and mango salsaSEP_8005.jpg
4. Poke bar in Foodland (spicy poke and seaweed salad) – NOT ALL pokes are gfSEP_8290

We tried (twice) but never made it inside Maui Brick Oven – 100% gluten free but operates on weird hours