Summer Travels, Part 2

In my last post, I shared a little about my week at Glorieta, New Mexico.  A little less than 12 hours after I got home from New Mexico, I was back on the road again – this time with the whole family as we headed north to Indiana and Michigan.

Our first stop was West Lafayette, Indiana to visit Tim’s family.  We stayed with my father-in-law and spent 3 days visiting with him, my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and two nephews.  While there, we got to watch both of my nephews play baseball.

That’s my oldest nephew, Noah, pitching in one of his games.

After a few days in Indiana, we headed even farther north to Michigan to visit with friends we haven’t seen since moving last year.  We spent the first few days with the Taplin family.

Rebecca got in a little time with Maddie – who has grown way too much since we left.

We had a campfire and roasted marshmallows Wednesday night.  Most of the kids relaxed by the campfire on the swing.

Maddie took my kids for a tour of the farm and introduced them to this years piggies.

Linden and Brett spent lots of time swinging.

After getting very little sleep the night before, some of the kids crashed in the living room for a while and watched a little tv.

We also spent a few nights at Lake of the Woods in Decatur at my parents’ camper.  The kids were really looking forward to swimming while we were there – Tim and I decided to pass on that since it felt like the lake had just thawed!

The kids had just tested the water and determined that it was just fine for swimming!

This is where they spent most of the morning.

Friday night, Rebecca spent the evening at church at the annual Faith Girls’ Party.  She was really excited that they were able to plan the party for the weekend we were visiting.  The theme this year was Red Carpet.

Here is a picture of most of the girls dressed in their Red Carpet finest.

Melissa and Rebecca (home school buddies) dressed up at the party.

Of course we had to eat at some of our old favorite restaurants during our visit.  We made it to Mancinos, Chinn Chinn, and Culvers.

Concrete shake and cheese curd…YUM!

Sunday morning (our last day in Michigan) we decided we needed a picture with the Cobb and Taplin kids.  We decided to line them up youngest to oldest, Missionary Kids style!

Can you believe it – we got the majority of the kids to look at the camera!

I think David had a little too much Cobb family fun this week – what do you think?

Of course, we had lots of fun visiting with our old friends.  As usual, I didn’t take nearly enough pictures while we were there!  Early Monday morning we loaded up the van and headed south, making a quick stop in Camby, Indiana to meet the newest member of the Lawyer household – who is absolutely adorable, by the way.  After a much too quick visit, it was back in the van for another 11 hours of travel.

This is pretty much the way we all felt by the end of our vacation!

Summer Travels, Part 1

Between June 4 and June 20, I traveled over 3800 miles.  In fact, between early morning June 11 and late night June 12, I traveled through 8 states and 3 time zones.  Needless to say, I’m a little tired of being in a car!

Why was I on the road so much this month?  Was I on a multi-state book tour?  Did I ditch my responsibilities and decide to be a groupie, following my favorite band across the country?  Nope, nothing like that! I spent the first half of my travels as a sponsor with our church youth group at camp in Glorieta, New Mexico.  Week 2 of my cross country trek was a family vacation to Indiana and Michigan.  Rather than cram all my travel details into a single post, I will share some of the highlights of Glorieta today and follow up with a Part 2 to this post later this week with pictures from our travels up north.


Late Sunday night, June 4, we loaded 76 teens and 12 sponsors on our church bus and a charter bus and headed out to Glorieta, New Mexico.  I was privileged enough to get to tag along on this trip as a sponsor.  Yep, as surprising as that may sound, our Youth Pastor deemed me responsible enough to be in charge of teens at camp…perhaps because he has only known me for a year :D!

After traveling 16 hours we reached our destination – high in the mountains of New Mexico.  It was absolutely beautiful…I wish I had taken more pictures along the way and while we were there.  However, between Rebecca and I, I think we did pretty well.  The picture above is of the chapel on the grounds of the camp.

Once we arrived at camp, the teens had to play a series of games in order to get their camp registration packets.  Here is a shot of our teens getting instructions for one of the games.

Each evening our group had a different theme and the teens could earn points for their family by dressing up.  Monday night was cowboy night, which gave Rebecca and I a chance to wear our sparkly Southwood cowboy hats!

Each morning the entire camp would meet together for a worship service and then the Cypress group would break off and have a separate Bible study.  That was followed by 30 minutes of quiet, devotional time and then a short all Cypress meeting.  We would then break up into our 12-13 student family groups for the remainder of the morning.  Afternoons were free time for the teens during which they could hang out at the lake, play miniature golf or other games like horseshoes or basketball, or just hang out.  I like this picture of Rebecca and a couple of her friends looking out over the lake one afternoon during free time.

Our Youth Pastor also registered the teens for the ropes course and the zip line, so several of the teens spent a portion of their free time at these courses.  This is a picture of Rebecca and one of her friends before climbing the poles to the zip line!

Wednesday’s theme was Black and White.  I just liked this picture of Rebecca and some of her friends that evening.

Sidewalk Prophets was the worship band at camp the week we were there.  Rebecca’s family group ate dinner with the band Thursday evening and got several pictures with the band.  I believe this is one of the guitar players, although I can’t remember his name.  And in case you couldn’t guess, the theme for that evening was ’80s gym night!

I Remember

I Remember…thinking, “That car isn’t going to stop.”

I Remember…the taste of gunpowder when the airbag deployed.

I Remember…the not-so-wise doctor who told me there was no reason I walked away from the accident.

I Remember…the much wiser doctor who told me there had to be a reason I walked away from the accident.

I Remember…the daily regime of pills (sometimes as many as 20 a day), the weekly physical therapy, and the monthly steroid injections.

I Remember…the immobility and depression helping me pack on 100 pounds (60 of which don’t seem to want to leave).

I Remember…the freedom of finally living without pills and injections.

I Remember…setting goals for the Cypress 5K and praying that I could reach them.

I Remember…Rebecca leaving me in the dust just after the race started (Good for her…she had her own goals!).

I Remember…Thinking that Old Palmetto road seemed much longer on June 4.

I Remember…The feel of the index card I was handed as I crossed the finish line.

I Remember…The realization that God helped me reach all of my goals that day.

I Remember…Thinking it was silly to pray so much about completing a 5K.

I Remember…That nothing is impossible with God!

Final Projects

In case you haven’t heard, today was our last day of school.  Not only was this the last day of our school year, but it was also the last day for our home school.  Next year, all three of our children will be in public school.  As a final assignment, Rebecca and Timothy were asked to write a letter to someone in which they talked about the advantages and disadvantages of home schooling. I decided I would publish their letters here.

Rebecca’s final project for Grade 8:

Dear You:

Hey! How’s life?  Mine’s going pretty well, today is my last day of eighth grade!  I have a bunch of plans for summer, and I know that it’s gonna be a great summer!  Then I start my freshman year as a Cowboy at Southwood High School!  Since today is my last day of Homeschool, I’m going to give you some of the benefits and downsides of Homeschooling.

There are multiple benefits to Homeschooling.  You have more free time to spend with family or other Homeschooled friends.  You never have to worry about Homework, because you git it all done in class.  You can work at your own pace, and you can get all the extra help you need!  You also have some input for what you study, and you can be pretty creative for how you do it.  Lastly your schedule can be really flexible!

For me, there were a few downsides to homeschooling too.  First, you’re in a class by yourself, and you don’t get to see your friends everyday.  It’s also hard to play sports or do extracurricular activities like choir or Student Council.  Lastly, it can be hard to decide what to do with all your free-time!  Haha.

Homeschooling has been great and I think I’m gonna miss it a little next year.  I am excited to be at a public school, but Home school will always hold a special place in my heart!

Love,

Rebecca

Timothy’s final project for Grade 5:

Dear Someone,

Hey, this is Timothy.  How are you doing?  I am doing good.  It is beautiful down here.  How is your family?  Mine is good.  Here are some benefits about homeschooling.

The benefits are you can go on more field trips in homeschool.  School is much shorter, sometimes.  You can also have some input in what you study, and if you like spending time with your parents this is for you.

There are downsides too.  There is a lot more writing.  You can’t play many sports.  This might be a downside for you – you have a small class.

My conclusion is that homeschooling is fun.  There are a couple downsides, but otherwise it is very fun.

Timothy

I found some M & Ms in my refrigerator today…

…you may be thinking I am about to make a confession regarding these M & Ms.  I am.

But I am NOT going to confess to you that I ate them.  Nope, that’s not the confession.  Even if I wasn’t trying to eat healthier, I wouldn’t have eaten these M & Ms.  You are no doubt familiar with the “5 second rule”.  Well, these candies wouldn’t have been edible if that was the “5 month rule”.  How do I know this?  The last time we had M & Ms in our fridge was June.  2010.  That’s right.  I remember it well.  Someone from our church in Michigan sent home a bag of them last June when we were getting ready to move.  She said she knew we would have lots of kids in and out of our house during the packing and moving and so we could share them.  I remember one day when there were tons of kids running around, some of the candy got spilled.  I thought I cleaned them all up.  Apparently not.  Also apparent is that no one noticed the candy in the bottom of my fridge when they moved it.

Because of this discovery, and the fact that there was an orange pop spill in my fridge (at least that was days and not weeks or months or years ago!), I decided to clean out my fridge.  Of course, the other reason I decided to clean out my fridge was because my friend Sarah (of Practical Praise) cleaned hers out weeks ago and posted pictures for me to see.  When Sarah undertakes a cleaning project (which she does often) or when she create something crafty and fantastic (which she also does often) it inspires me.  Now, it doesn’t inspire me to immediate action, mind you.  I have to let the idea sit in my brain for a while.  Then finally, either out of inspiration (in the case of her crafts) or guilt (in the case of her obsessive cleanliness), I am moved to action.

Anyway, regardless of the motivation…I now have a clean refrigerator.  Thanks Sarah :D!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

On my quest to eat healthier (thanks a lot Sarah Taplin!) I have been searching on-line for healthy snack recipes.  Yesterday I found a recipe for chocolate peanut butter banana muffins and was amazed to find that I had (almost) everything I needed to make these muffins – even the overripe bananas.

As is my way, I changed the recipe up just a little and made it my own.  I don’t think my changes made the recipe any less healthy, they just worked with what I had on hand.  The muffins turned out great and even TJ (who hates bananas, banana bread, etc.) has eaten two of them so far this afternoon.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Ingredients

  • 3 large overripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (I used homemade from almonds and raw cashews, but any will work)

Method

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin pan.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a fork.  Stir in the honey, egg, and applesauce.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the pastry flour, ground flax seed, unbleached flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and gently fold together.  Add in the chocolate chips.

Fill each muffin cup about half full.

Add 1 tsp of peanut butter to the middle of each cup.

Top each muffin cup with the remaining batter and smooth over to cover the peanut butter.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out with no wet chocolate batter.  Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 30 minutes and then remove from the pan and move to a wire rack to complete cooling.

Some notes about these muffins:

  1. The combination of the applesauce and bananas makes for a very moist muffin.  The next time I make them, I will use paper muffin liners, rather than just spraying the muffin cups.
  2. If your oven is bakes uneven like mine, you may have one or two chocolate peanut butter banana lava muffins – the two muffins in the center of our pan never get fully cooked, however they were still really good.
  3. Rebecca, TJ and I agreed that next time we will use more peanut butter in the filling.

Homemade Granola Bars

I should really make a new tag and call it “post a month” because I am way behind in this post a day thing.  Oh well…

I’ve been trying to change up our eating habits at the Cobb house.  Nothing extreme, just trying to get more fruits and vegetables into our diet while reducing the amount of processed foods we eat.  I have spent the last few days reading blogs and recipe sites looking for some new recipes to try on the family.  I was really interested in finding a granola bar recipe.  I don’t like to eat a big meal at breakfast – I would rather just grab a granola bar.  The Special K bars are my favorite – Chocolate Pretzel, Raspberry Cheesecake…YUM.

I decided that if I was going to go to the trouble of making granola bars at home then they either had to be healthier, cheaper, or both.  I found several granola bar recipes, but even the ones labeled “healthy” had lots of butter and sugar added.  So, I decided to do something that I rarely do, and I created my own recipe.  I was really happy with the results.  Not only are they pretty darn yummy, but they have no preservatives, high fiber, and relatively low calories (If my numbers are correct, around 150 calories per bar).

Of course, since I didn’t know how they would turn out, I didn’t take any pictures along the way.  If I remember, I will take some more pictures of the next batch and post those (at my current rate of posting, look for those in mid-June!).  However I do have one picture of the bar, taken after they were cut and wrapped.

Homemade Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 1  2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ cup wheat bran
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 oz dried pineapple
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 Tbsp dried cherries
  • 1 oz chopped raw almonds
  • 1 oz chopped raw cashews
  • 1 Tbsp flax seed
  • 1 oz sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup nut butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8X8 baking dish with cooking spray.

Mix rolled oats, wheat flour, wheat bran, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl.  Add fruit, seeds, and nuts to the dry mixture.  In a separate bowl, whisk together nut butter and honey.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix really well.  Add applesauce and mix again.

Press the mixture into the greased 8X8 baking dish.  Bake for 30 minutes, until the edges are slightly brown.  Allow to cool completely and then cut and wrap.  Makes 16 square bars.

Some notes about these bars:

  1. They are really chewy, rather than being a crisp granola bar.
  2. The dried fruits, nuts, and seeds can be exchanged for just about anything you like.  The key is to have between 2 and 2 1/2 cups of this component – it can be all fruit, all nut, or any random combination.
  3. You can use any nut butter that you like.  I made my own with a combination of raw cashews and almonds, but any nut butter will work.
  4. I think I am going to try these in a 9X13 baking dish next, just to see if I like the texture of a thinner bar.

Enjoy!!