• Ashley M.

I've been a little absent from Instagram these days. Honestly, I almost made an announcement up front and totally closed up shop, but felt compelled to stay somewhat connected in an effort to help local businesses with whom I have existing relationships. Lately, I've gotten several DM's asking if I am okay, where I've been, etc. The truth is, I am GREAT! I feel guilty saying this amidst a global pandemic, but have always been a homebody, so when the world said stay home, I was like, "okay thanks!" I love cooking and have enjoyed making different meals at home each night, we live in a neighborhood with dozens of walking paths which makes getting fresh air easy, it's Spring in Texas and the weather has been gorgeous, plus my husband is working from home and I get to see him all the time. We are fortunate! Plus, as any stay at home mom knows, we are used to being shut off from others and chained to our homes, so we were basically made for this.

In no way has this season of stay at home been a vacation, but it has been nice to live a simpler lifestyle. In a lot of ways my children are living life like my sister and I did as kids. They've been playing outside, using their imaginations and learning how to find new and simpler ways to have fun. There have been times in the evening I've opened my Amazon app and felt drawn to practice my old ways of buying "stuff" to keep our kids entertained, but then stopped myself. I want to use this time to teach them the value of contentment. Our world is fast pace and we are accustomed to looking for new ways to feel gratification. I want to teach my children to find joy in simplicity.

Serving as Olivia's educator is challenging and a true test of patience, but as it turns out wildly fun! I enjoy scouring websites and Pinterest for new ideas. I enjoy spending Sunday evenings creating a week's worth of lesson plans. Most of all, I enjoy the time I am getting with our daughter, which I would otherwise be missing. Here is our daily school day schedule:

Olivia’s Home School Agenda

9am - READING & WRITING

10:30am- SNACK & PE

11am- MATH

12pm- LUNCH

1pm- SPECIAL LESSON:

Monday- ART

Tuesday- SCIENCE

Wednesday- LIFE SKILLS

Thursday- MUSIC

Friday- SPANISH

2pm- INDEPENDENT READING

2:30pm- SPANISH

3pm- CLEAN UP

***We are schedule people because it works for us. I have several mom friends that teach using a less structured day and it works wonderfully for them. I firmly believe that each parent know what works best for them and their children.

Notes about our stay at home schooldays routine...

6:30am wakeup

- I run 4-6 mile routes 4 times a week and either lift weights or practice yoga on alternating days (my sister's studio has been streaming classes which I've loved practicing while outside on my mat. Despite little humans occasionally interrupting my practice, being outside makes me feel grounded). On days I lift weights or practice yoga, I wake up earlier to enjoy solitude while I can and when Max wakes up, he joins me for a 3.5 mile walk while he sips his morning smoothie in the stroller.

-I get about 15 minutes to shower and get dressed. This is hubby's time to lift weights or go for a run, so Max is trapped in the bathroom with me and usually rummaging through our cabinets pulling caps off hair products.

Breakfast + Morning Coffee

9am School day begins....

Max and Scott go upstairs to work and play.

9am-10:30 am Reading + Writing

-We start by Olivia writing a letter to a cousin, friend, grandparent, etc. While our intention was not to get letters in return, Olivia has gotten so much joy hearing that her notes have made others smile.

Other lessons include:

-practice spelling words she is expected to know by second grade in unique ways

-grammar lessons (nouns, pronouns, adverbs, adjectives, etc.)

-completing lessons assigned by her teacher in Seasaw app.

-vowel team practice, reading fluency exercises and reading comprehension exercises

-We finish this subject each morning by moving to the couch, sharing a blanket and reading two chapters from whatever book we're currently working through together, alternating turns reading the pages. Once we finish our chapters, I ask Olivia questions about what we've read and she answers them in her journal.

10:30am PE and snack

*Max joins in by running around haphazardly, laughing hysterically and riding my lap during sit ups or in my arms while I run around

-Olivia's gym teacher has been great at sending different YouTube kid workouts, games, etc. On days we don't use those assignments we go for a run together or practice her bike riding (which means me running behind her while holding the balance bar)

11am-12pm Math

-Okay, I'll admit it...I LOVE MATH! It has always been my favorite subject and seeing Olivia learn new skills is super exciting to me. The most challenging part of this hour is managing Max. He is downstairs with us the whole time and shouting, "Alexa" or throwing tantrums while I make his lunch which is super distracting for Olivia. Eats for Kids meals by Prep to Your Door have been an absolute lifesaver for school day lunches for this reason! These meals are plant based, organic and always vary which exposes Max to different flavors and textures.

-Mid morning I take lunch "orders" from Olivia and Scott, so that I can prepare their meals without interrupting school or work. Max sits in his high chair at 11:30 which allows me freedom to move about the kitchen and start prepping lunches for Scott, Olivia and myself (while also facilitating Olivia's math lessons). This hour is the most chaotic!

-Math lessons include counting money, addition, subtraction, addition and subtraction with regrouping, telling time, shapes and telling time

12pm-1pm Lunch and Recess

-Lunches are ready and served which means we all get to sit together for a family meal. This is another thing we never got to enjoy during normal life.

-Once Olivia has finished her lunch, she gets to choose how she would like to spend her time. Usually we take a walk to the mailbox, play outside or practice riding her bike.

1pm-2pm Specials

-Our favorite day is home skills. We often make a recipe together, but we have also made homemade envelopes to practice addressing letters properly and learned how to do laundry.

2-2:30pm Independent Reading Time

-Max is still napping during this time and Olivia and I curl up in bed together glued to our books and enjoy the quiet.

2:30pm Spanish

-Despite the fact I took 5 years of Spanish (one of which at a high collegiate level), I am seriously not equipped to teach this subject. We lean into online lessons, assignments from Olivia's Spanish teacher and Spanish learning apps. I feel so fortunate to have so many resources readily available...can you imagine if this would have happened pre internet?

3pm Clean Up

-This is when our kitchen table gets cleared from the markers, scissors, glue, tape, piles of papers and notebooks. iPads get charged and I get to switch from teacher to mama.

3pm-5pm Play with Max and Olivia

- Sometimes this is the best part of the day and sometimes these two hours feel like an eternity. This all depends on our moods and quite honestly the weather. The days that we are able the play outside on the patio with water toys are the best.

5pm Dinner Prep and Rejoice that Scott is off work

-It doesn't always happen, but on the occasion that both kiddos are compliant, I am left with an empty kitchen and get to play music while cooking. I can't quite describe it, but cooking has always been therapeutic for me. Olivia used to lay on a blanket in the kitchen while watching me and quietly playing with her own kitchen gadgets. Max, however, cannot stand me in the kitchen. He wants his food and he wants it that instant. He toddles around crying, opening the pantry and rummaging through everything in his reach then throwing it on the ground and often goes boneless with full on tantrums. This is why on the times Scott is able to keep Max preoccupied with playtime and the kitchen is just for me, I am tickled!

5:30pm Dinner

-I remember prior to having kids that Scott and I would eat dinner at 7:30pm every night. This now seems so late to me... I am officially old.

6pm Play or Walk the Neighborhood

-My favorite backyard game we call, "Mommy Ball." It's really soccer, but with a kickball. Scott and Olivia are always on a team and then Max and I are on a team except he is in my arms while I run and laughing the whole time. There is lots of laughing and yelling and the game ALWAYS ends with the ball being kicked over the fence into a neighbor's yard.

6:30pm Bath Time for both kiddos

7pm Kiddo Bedtime

7:30pm- 9:30pm Adults play!!!! We made it!!!

-scour Pinterest for lesson plan activities, scroll Instagram, respond to texts from the day, binge watch TV shows, card games or work on a puzzle with hubs or lounge on the patio

9:30pm Bedtime... and it feels so good!

Trust me, I do miss getting together with friends, going to restaurants and traveling. The hardest part of this for us has been canceling plans with out of town family and living in uncertainty not knowing when our next visits will be. That being said, this is a unique opportunity to be at home together and bond. We're all in good health, we have food to fill our bellies and a roof over our heads. We are fortunate!

-Ashley M.

#homelife #family #momlife #momsohard #homeschool

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  • Ashley M.

Copycat Starbucks Egg Bites

I am literally obsessed with Starbucks egg bites! We are currently staying home and staying safe from COVID-19 and I've found the best way for me to reduce stress has been in the kitchen. Every time a craving hits, I add the necessary ingredients to our once a week grocery list so that I can make whatever I am jonesing for in our own kitchen. When Max was born, my in laws bought us an Instant Pot and I have to admit I am constantly impressed by everything that can be done with this one device.

I had no idea how these would turn out, but I was on a mission. The egg mold is from Amazon and the second it arrived, I was ready to roll!

Ingredients:

5 eggs

1/2 cup cottage cheese

2 ounces plain cream cheese (or plain Greek yogurt)

3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup mix ins (options: Hatch green chiles, diced bell peppers, diced roasted asparagus, dice roasted broccoli)

Directions:

1. Pour one cup of water into the Instant Pot. Place the trivet on top.

2. Add eggs, cottage cheese, cream cheese or yogurt, shredded cheese and salt into a blender. Blend until smooth and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

3. Spray each cup of the silicone egg mold with cooking spray. Divide your mix ins evenly among each egg cup. Pour the egg mixture into each cup over the mix ins.

4. Cover the mold tightly with foil and gently place the mold on top of the trivet. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and turn to lock in place.

5. Set the Instant Pot lid to sealing and press the 'Steam' function, set for 8 minutes.

6. Once the 8 minutes have passed, move the lid valve to release the steam. Carefully lift the mold from the pot, remove the foil from the mold. Using a small spoon, gently remove your egg bites, or leave them in the mold to store. You can serve these immediately or freeze. Enjoy!

Love and hugs,

Ashley M.

#breakfast #InstantPot #recipe #eggs #copycatStarbucks #glutenfree

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  • Ashley M.

Saturday we packed up the car with the kids, dog and one very large suitcase and made the short drive north to Salado, TX. Our room and dining plans were made, but we really did not know what to expect and quite honestly were a little nervous about bringing two young kiddos along. We checked into the Inn on the Creek and were handed our room key for Tonkawa. We were given a map of the property and told that the house made fudge and all the teas, sodas and drinks left in our room were to enjoy during our stay.

Tonkawa room key

The moment we turned the key to enter our room we were immediately relaxed. The room was clean and wonderfully cozy. Our bed was really comfy and the staff placed a roll away bed in our room for our daughter, Olivia, to sleep. We had plenty of room to also set up Max's pak n play. We booked this room specifically as it is pet friendly. Our Chinese Crested, Noah, loves being included on our trips.

We made the short, 3 minute walk from our room to Barrow Brewing. Max took a nap in his stroller while we played games with Olivia and tried a few beers from the brewery. Olivia was hungry for a snack, so we ordered a hot pretzel from the truck parked on site, Happy Pizza. I am not exaggerating when I say this hot pretzel was by far the best I have ever had. They freshly make the dough on the truck and it is like nothing I have ever had (poor Olivia ended up sharing a generous portion of her pretzel).

Barrow Brewing Salado

We left the brewery and went back to the main house of the Inn to meet up with Chef Jacob. On Fridays and Saturdays of the Hunter and Gatherer Dining Experience. Guests are invited to join Chef to forage for ingredients that will be used in the six course dining experience. This experience was such a treat. Max loved running wild in nature and Olivia loved learning about all the different ingredients that can be found. She got to smell Texas red buds, pick wild garlic and taste Perilla mint.

Another benefit of staying at the Inn on a Friday or Saturday is a 4pm welcome reception also provided by Chef Jacob. Wine and bites were placed out for our enjoyment which this evening was fresh bread, shrimp and whipped goat cheese. Staff joined us during this happy hour and played with both kiddos while explaining some of the history about the property.

We went back to our room to relax for a bit and change into our clothes for dinner, then made it back to the main building to enjoy the view of the creek. The property has an amazing wrap around porch and porch swing and if you walk closer to the creek, you can post up on one of the many Adirondack chairs.

We were greeted and invited into the gorgeous dining room designed by Chef Jacob's wife, Lynda. Our dinner course began with a pour of Prosecco, fresh bread and an herbal dipping oil (made from the ingredients we had foraged only hours before). Yes, our six year old and 15 month old were with us the entire time. Olivia was really excited to try the food after being a part of the process and Max made it for two courses then napped in his stroller. I will also note, Chef Jacob was kind enough to bring them both bowls of delicious macaroni and cheese. The rest of our courses were (these are my words and descriptions from memory):

-Amuse Bouche~ Motel Flan with Rice and Wild Onion Crisps, Edible Earth and Wild Cress

-Artichoke and Maitake with Wild Garlic

-Snapper Crudo with Tuna Prosctuitto and Wild Brassica

-Poached Chicken Breast with Morels and Chickweed served over Foie Gras

-Crispy Pork with Wild Pea Flowers and Roots

-Wood Ice Cream with Wild Blossoms and Strawberries

We left our meal completely blown away by Chef Jacob's talents. To be perfectly candid, this was the best meal we have had in a long time. Chef Jacob pays careful attention to every detail, tells a story with his dishes and honors seasonal ingredients in an elevated way.

After a cozy evening of sleep in our room, we woke and enjoyed a lazy morning in bed while the kiddos played a bit, then walked over to enjoy the peaceful view of the creek one last time. At 9am we were invited to a breakfast prepared by Chef Jacob. We were offered coffee and juice as we enjoyed our vegetable frittata and roasted potatoes.

Checkout was easy, but we were sad to say goodbye to our retreat. As we will always cherish the memory of our entire experience with Inn on the Creek Salado, we are already wanting to book our next stay!

-Ashley M.

#Salado #InnontheCreekSalad #travel #familyfun #familylife #Texas

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