A Mid-Month Update [January 2018]

Happy New Year!

The end of the year was not how we had thought it would be, but sometimes that’s just life! We mostly rolled with it because what else can you do? If you missed it, here’s how we ended our year –> moychronicles.com/2018/01/15/family-nye-celebration

Getting Back to a Routine

The end of “winter break” meant we slowly started up our routine again. It was nice to find a rhythm after we were thrown off our regular schedule by sickness, Thanksgiving, sickness, concerts, Christmas, sickness, performances, sickness, holiday festivities, sickness of other family members, visits…you get the point. We are glad to be meeting up with our discipleship group, Awana, homeschool group, and choir for a new season of fun, friendship, and food (hopefully :p ).

Field Trippin’

The new semester started out with a field trip for Melody. Norm’s old workplace offered passes to the Exploratorium for employees. He took Emily there for her birthday in May, me as a part of our anniversary day date in August, and since he no longer works there, we took advantage of our homeschool group’s trip for Melody to go with Norm. (I sense a blog post coming soon on our Exploratorium experience.)

Goal Get ‘Em!

We may or may not share more about our goals later. As part of our family New Year’s Eve celebration, we usually think about our goals/plans for the coming year after reflecting on lowlights and highlights of the past year. One of Emily’s goals was to learn to play the guitar. She plays ukulele but now her hands are little bigger to play the guitar too.

I’m still going through the goal-setting process for a few of my goals, and while cooking (or rather, not being anxious when cooking) is not one of my specific goals, I do plan to try new things more often. (One of Melody’s goals is to help out more with meal prep and cooking.) This is indirectly related to one of my “relationship” goals. We did try out one other recipe but didn’t get a chance to share it yet. They’re both brunch-ish recipes because we are seeing if changing things up on Saturdays will work out better for our schedule. Sidenote: Thanks to *Plan to Eat and the Ultimate Healthy Meal Planning Bundle (this is no longer available but the *Gut Health Super Bundle is available until 3/31/18), we are working our way to better meal planning, and eventually, healthier meal planning! Banana Stuffed French ToastFrench Toast Pigs in a Blanket

If you’ve been “following” me at all through these past few years, you’ll see that I’ve been on a journey to simplify. When my mind, space, and heart is a little less cluttered, it allows me to be free to enjoy those around me…I am probably more enjoyable too. 😉 In the past, I have hosted decluttering challenges, but because they were fairly short, there were always spaces I never got around to decluttering. I suppose we could have just chosen different ones to join in without a break but since they are shorter, they were usually more involved, which often leads to burnout. This year I chose to do it as a year-long process with Home Storage Solutions, which makes sense because stuff continues to come into our homes and hog up space, so we need to declutter things we don’t have a need for anymore. (An update to come soon!)

We read much and often around here, but I’m the only one who has reading goals because otherwise, I won’t make time for reading OR I’ll try to read all the things. There have been some amazing books released in the last year and coming up as well. We’ll never have enough time to read them all so I must curate a list of those that may help me with some of my other goals. Check out What I’m Reading in January [Book List]!

Etc.

In other random news, I’m so proud to be a tiny part of the launch of my friend Kat Lee’s Hello Mornings book! Read about it here –> hellomornings.org/book | Buy it *here –> *amzn.to/2myZkmt I’m hosting the 30-Day Challenge in our HM Facebook community group of almost 4,000 women, and let me just say that if you want to keep accountable to doing your 3-Minute Morning, this will do it for ya! (I plan to lead a small group through the upcoming HM group session and study, as well as host a Hello Mornings book club, so make sure to grab your copy and join me!)

I will probably post on my own blog about the 4 Weeks to a More Productive Life coaching group with Crystal Paine. I’m not sure if/when registration will open up again, but I highly recommend her other courses *Make Over Your Mornings and *Make Over Your Year.

What have you been up to so far this new year?

Family New Year’s Eve Celebration

(This ended up being a longer-than-expected post. Hopefully, this will give you some ideas for your own Family New Year’s Eve Party! The first portion is from my Instagram post.)

🎄 The hustle and bustle of the holidays are a bit full and sometimes overwhelming so for the past few years, we have been closing out the year with just the four of us. It is a silly time of celebration, but also a thoughtful time of reflection. No big bash for the Moys…lots of Thanksgiving and Christmas bashes already.

🎉 We take turns planning the evening and it usually involves an hourly activity until we count down to whatever midnight hour we can make it to. This year was a bit different than past years and that is okay. I planned it this year, but with NYE being on Sunday when we have our family dinners at my parents’ house with the sibs and family, I was thinking of something different…but then someone goes and has a baby right before Christmas and someone goes and gets sick…we decided to keep that simple and move up our own shindig, which meant we didn’t quite do what I was planning.

🎊 We did half-hourly activities, from enjoying an appetizer dinner to photo prop goofiness, from reviewing the year to dreaming of what 2018 could hold, and a new one for our party this year was games. We love board games and play often but this was an NYE first. It was funny to see we each picked the game that was somewhat of our “specialty.” You can see in the games pic what we chose.

*Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.

Half-Hour #1

We had an appetizer dinner. There was something else planned but we couldn’t get it together in time. But all was enjoyable and enjoyed. 🙂 Yum! On the menu were cucumber slices and Trader Joe’s Tzatziki Creamy Garlic Cucumber Dip; sliced bread and Trader Joe’s Spinach Dip; Trader Joe’s Mini Greek Spirals & Mini Quiche Duo; and some chicken…I can’t remember the specifics.

Half-Hour #2

We watched a slideshow of some of our favorite moments of the year. The photo on the laptop is of my sister and Melody at Melody’s 10th birthday dinner. 🙂

Half-Hour #3

Everyone was able to choose one game/activity to play. Since we only had 30 minutes, we only played one round of each game. Like I mentioned, it was funny to see what we chose because they are all things we usually would win.

– Emily chose *Mancala.
– Melody chose the *World GeoPuzzle. *Individual continent puzzles are also available.
– I chose *Boggle. We have the travel edition but it looks like they don’t make it anymore. There are various editions, like *Boogle Junior, *Super Big Boggle, *Scrabble Boggle, and more!
– Norm chose *Jenga. There are various versions of this one too!

Half-Hour #4

Dessert time! Emily chose Trader Joe’s Sea Salt Brownies. One of our fave vacation activities is watching TV since we don’t own a TV, so I figured I’ve watched enough cooking/baking shows to do some sort of fancy plating. It goes to show that there is beauty in the everyday. Add a few chocolate-covered pretzels, raspberries, and powdered sugar, and voila! It’s not going to win any food competitions/shows, but there you have it!

Half-Hour #5

One of our favorites is photo props. We have them out all year and make every visitor who comes through our doors take selfies with them. We typically download new printables to print and/or trace each year. While it is fun, it is also time-intensive. This year, I opted to order some. There were so many fun pieces for a great deal, we put together a small party bag of props, chocolates, and glow stickers for our neighbor friends.  It looks like the company is already prepping for next year because the 2018 kit is not even available on Amazon anymore. BUT you can get your *Valentine’s Day props OR be super duper prepared for *Christmas (this one is a really good deal!! as of the time of this post publishing). There are wedding and baby shower props and much more!

Emily was reading what we were to do for our next half hour.

Half-Hour #6

I received the Growth Mindset New Year Kit from Big Life Journal and thought it would be a fun one to work through. Even if we didn’t all fill out all the worksheets, I think it was so helpful to review and reflect on our year, as well as look ahead to dreams and goals. (We’ve been meaning to tell you about the *Big Life Journal and haven’t had a chance to put words to the screen yet.)

I was hoping we would continue our celebration but we lost steam the next few days as some of us were still weary from all the holiday activities and sickness. BUT if you were wondering what was planned, we usually watch the countdown of other countries (we did do this at my parents’ house and we watched Paris, Australia (so good!), Hong Kong, London, New York, and maybe a few others), *glowstick dance party to our traditional NYE *dance party tunes (we always have glowsticks available because we buy a lot to pass out during Halloween for the Teal Pumpkin Project, and of course, we do the countdown to whatever time zone we can stay awake until. 🙂 And we would toast to a new year with some sparkling cider and apple juice (the girls do not like fizzy stuff).

It didn’t go as planned but we still had a bunch of fun.

HAPPY NEW YEAR from the Moys!

How was your New Year’s Eve? Did you go out or stay in? Do tell!

*Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.

French Toast Pigs in a Blanket

We usually modify recipes to our own likes, dietary tolerances, cooking skills 😉 , and budget. This is the ORIGINAL RECIPE I followed.

*Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

I made some notes at the top portion, but the full list of ingredients and instructions is at the bottom. We’re not food bloggers and I don’t always remember to take pics (you know, because the stove is on and things may burn while I’m taking the pics…not that I would know anything about that), but we thought it might be helpful to others out there who are cooking newbies or don’t love cooking (LIKE ME!) if we share some simple recipes we have tried and like that aren’t super difficult to make or with lots of unfamiliar ingredients. Seriously, if I can do it, you will most likely be able to as well. Note: The only dietary limitations we have are no cashews and limited/no shellfish for the kiddos, but if anyone wants us to try any GF, DF, SF, __F recipes, let us know.

PIN THIS RECIPE

The Ingredients

We halved the recipe since that’s what we had to work with and we used Aidell’s Maple and Smoked Bacon Links. Our bread was slightly too small for our sausages so we jokingly called them French Toast Pigs Covered with a Blanket. :p

Since we halved the recipe, we also had some Trader Joe’s Hashbrown Patties (not shown) and berries for our brunch.

The remaining ingredients should be kitchen staples, but we also had some berries, syrup, and powdered sugar.

The Process

Besides the aforementioned ingredient changes, we didn’t change anything about how we made them.

Since you’re dipping the bread rolled up around the sausage, it doesn’t matter how wide the bowl is, but I typically use *THIS BOWL.

We have a griddle but it’s not the best, especially for thicker slices of bread. I think we have *THIS PAN and I was able to put 10 in there, but I would go for 8 like it says in the original recipe.

The Result

Like I said earlier, the bread was too small, so they kind of fell apart, but that’s okay. They were going to end up in our bellies anyway. :p

Our Thoughts

  • Dad – It was different than the usual Pigs in a Blanket.
  • Mom – Tasted good to me.
  • Big Sis – I liked the french toast by itself.
  • Little Sis – It was okay.

Recipe + Next Time…

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices of bread
  • 8 maple breakfast sausages, cooked
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • bit of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • maple syrup (optional)
  • powdered sugar for serving (optional)

Instructions:

  • Remove eight slices of white bread from the loaf.
  • Cut crusts off and discard (or reuse in another recipe).
  • Wrap on sausage in one piece of bread.
  • Press the bottom edge to seal tightly around the sausage.
  • In a shallow dish, whisk eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon together to combine.
  • Preheat a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  • Melt butter in the bottom of the pan.
  • Dip bread-wrapped breakfast sausages into the egg mixture and place into the hot butter.
  • Cook and rotate until golden all around.
  • Remove from pan.
  • Serve warm with powdered sugar and maple syrup.
  • Enjoy!

Bolded instructions can be done by younger chefs!

We will definitely have bigger slices of bread next time. We may or may not try with breakfast sausages like the country sausage kind(?)…sorry don’t know the exact term. If we had more time the evening before, I might cut the crust off so we don’t have to think about that in the morning. (We had these on a Saturday so there was no rush but it’s nice to have a lazy morning.) We reused the bread crust for THIS RECIPE.

What are you and your kiddos’ favorite recipes to make or foods to eat? Do you like sweets, savory treats, exotic flavors? Do tell!

Here’s the Plan to Eat link if you use that for your meal planning. If not, here’s our referral link if you want to try it out for free for 30 days –> plantoeat.com/ref/moyfam

PIN THIS RECIPE

*Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Banana Stuffed French Toast

We usually modify recipes to our own likes, dietary tolerances, cooking skills 😉 , and budget. This is the ORIGINAL RECIPE I followed.

*Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

I made some notes at the top portion, but the full list of ingredients and instructions is at the bottom. We didn’t intend to write a blog post about this so we didn’t take any photos, but we thought it might be helpful to others out there who are cooking newbies or don’t love cooking (LIKE ME!) if we share some simple recipes we have tried and like that aren’t super difficult to make or with lots of unfamiliar ingredients.

PIN THIS RECIPE

The Ingredients

We almost always have bananas around for eating by itself, in cereal, in yogurt, or in smoothies, so this was an easy recipe to make. We’ve also topped French toast with bananas before too.

We were able to use the entire Trader Joe’s Sliced French Brioche loaf for the four of us – 2 adults + 2 kiddos (10 and 8) – 8 slices for the 4 “sandwiches,” and the remaining slice plus the 2 heels of the loaf in the rest of the egg mixture. We love brioche for our French toast, but any bread will do.

The remaining ingredients should be kitchen staples, but we also had some berries, syrup, and powdered sugar.

The Process

We skipped the coating from the original recipe, but if you have pecans or other nuts and cornflakes, that would give it a nice crunch.

You could use a more shallow bowl, but for quicker whisking by an 8-year-old, I used *THIS BOWL.

We have a griddle but it’s not the best, especially for thicker slices of bread. I think we have *THIS PAN  and I can make two sandwiches at a time in this one.

The Result

Our Thoughts

  • Dad – It was pretty good!
  • Mom – Yummy!
  • Big Sis – Love love love love love love love love!
  • Little Sis – I LOVED it!!!!

Recipe + Next Time…

Ingredients:

  • 2 bananas, peeled + thinly sliced
  • 8 slices brioche bread
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions:

  • Divide banana slices amount four slices of bread.
  • Top the bread/banana combo with the four remaining slices of bread.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon.^
  • Melt butter in a large skillet^^ over medium-high heat.
  • Dip sandwiches into egg mixture.
  • Add sandwiches to the skillet, 1-2 at a time.
  • Cook until evenly golden brown and crispy, about 2-3 minutes on each side.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with berries + powdered sugar, if your kids or belly asks for them. :p
  • Enjoy!

Bolded instructions can be done by younger chefs!

I don’t think I would do anything differently next time we make this particular recipe. It was enjoyed by all.

What are you and your kiddos’ favorite recipes to make or foods to eat? Do you like sweets, savory treats, exotic flavors? Do tell!

Here’s the Plan to Eat link if you use that for your meal planning. If not, here’s our referral link if you want to try it out for free for 30 days –> plantoeat.com/ref/moyfam

PIN THIS RECIPE

*Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Christmas in the Park

Christmas in the Park is beautiful and a lot of people contribute to putting together all of the trees Santa comes sometimes too.

Captions by: Emily, age 8
Photos by: Dad Norm + Mom Joyce
More info here –> christmasinthepark.com (open through 1/7/18)

A Note from Emily’s Mom: We have been to Christmas in the Park at night before and it was fun to see the tree lighting and all of the lights, rides, and people. Since we were in San Jose for a field trip at The Tech Museum across the street, we decided to swing by for a quick look at the trees during the day (when it is less crowded).

Santa-dragon-sled

There is a story on it.

Tons of trees each one is special.

Our favorites

Looking and lots of Girl Scout trees

So many troop numbers

Country Bears 

Santa’s reindeer

Lots of companies participated too!

Have you been on a local mini-adventure lately? Where did you go?

From the website: Christmas in the Park is an annual holiday tradition that takes place in the heart of Downtown San José at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez. For over 30 years, this whimsical event has brought people from all over the Bay Area together during the holidays. Each year, the two-acre park is transformed into a holiday fantasy with over 60 musical and animated exhibits, glittering lights and the 60-foot Community Giving Tree. Some of the original displays housed in one of the largest exhibits, the Lima Train, include a melting snowman, caroling mice, and elf woodcrafters. Guests enter a winter wonderland of lights, songs, and local entertainment while strolling through an enchanted forest of trees decorated by San José schools, community groups, and businesses.

The Tech Museum of Innovation

The last time our school had a field trip to the Tech Museum, we were really little, about 3 and 5, so we decided not to go. This time, since we’re older now, we got to go to the Tech Museum!

Captions by: Melody (10)
Photos by: Dad Norm + Mom Joyce
More info here –> thetech.org

Getting to The Tech Museum

We took the freeway and there was traffic because we kept on stopping and going. Side Note: If you have motion sickness, eat something before you leave the house. So we got there and we parked in the parking garage except when we got out of the car, we couldn’t figure out how to get out of the convention center parking garage! So we were saved when we saw our friends who coincidentally happened to be looking for a way out of the garage, too, and then we walked out together. (You have to go to the ground level through the convention center lobby.

Upper Level (Exhibits)

1) Innovations in Health Care

This was our first stop. Scientists have to think about what they’re doing before they make it.

You can also do things to help you understand the concept, too.

This is what our skin would look like if our cells changed even slightly. Ewww! (But the colors look nice!)

So if you held out your arms, you could make cells multiply. My sister and I made so many cells, they looked like we were the same person!

2) BioDesign Studio

A man, who looked like he either a volunteer or staff member, came up to us and told us, “You should go to the microscope activity before there’s a line.” So we went there and there was a scientist from Stanford University there who told us about cells and DNA.

We put swabs on the inside of our mouths and rubbed it on the slide. Then we had to put the dye on the slide. After that, we put water on the slide.

So the last part of our tour of our cells was that we got to see them, too. We also got to see other cells on slides – blood cells, animal cells, and more!

3) Reboot Reality

We drew on this blank canvas-looking like iPad thing. I drew a heart. There was also a look into the “future of San Jose.”

4) The Tech for Global Good

There are little stations where you can sit and watch some videos of inspiring stories of people trying to solve some of the world’s problems. There’s about 6 videos at each of the 3 stations.

5) Body Worlds Decoded

This is the current main exhibit that is being featured. Since we’re studying human anatomy this year, we also decided to go to visit Body Worlds Decoded.

We also checked out a device with augmented reality that let us see different parts of the body that wasn’t actually in front of us as we were walking around.

Below is a picture of a standing woman.

That’s the singer (our family). Their tracheas are bigger because they exercise them a lot.

Looking at intestines on the tablet!

The body. We couldn’t touch this. He was demonstrating how the body would look if we were to dissect it.

You got to stand in front of a screen and do something, and the screen would show your insides!

Ground Level

6) Hackworth IMAX Dome Theater

Since we are studying American History this year, we paid a little extra to watch the movie that was showing in the IMAX Theater – Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West. It was a little scary at some points, and also you felt like you were really moving/tilting with them.

7) New Venture Hall – Event space

8) The Tech Store – Find special gifts, books, and unique Silicon Valley items, plus educational materials.

9) The Tech Cafe presented by Tony Caters

We ate lunch here. Emily had the Classic Mac and Cheese, I had Basil Pesto pasta which you could tell was fresh, my mom had a Grilled Cheese Panini, and my dad had The Cheesesteak.

Lower Level (Exhibits)

10) Exploration Gallery

It has sort of a space theme.

My mom and I walked in as my dad got in this chair, and I was wondering what would happen to him. So all you have to do is follow the light and turn the chair. I would get really dizzy!

11) Social Robots – Design, build and program a real robot using sensors, controllers and activators. We didn’t get to this area but our friends loved it!

12) The Tech Studio

We got to build the Internet with routers and servers, and firewalls kept the Internet safe.

13) Body Metrics

I wanted to go to this one because you can find, well…what your body looks like and your “inner” you.

That’s me trying desperately to get all of them 🙂 I never did, but, hey! I got 14!

14) Cyber Detectives

We got to chose whether we wanted to go on an espionage mission or a sabotage mission, and we picked espionage. There was a video where we received our assignment.

Emily is trying to change the password into a more secured one.

Thanks for a great time, Tech Museum!

At the end, we got a medallion and two pressed pennies.

At the group entrance of the museum is this Science on a Roll ball machine. You can watch the balls go up and then roll back down.

Emily’s fave: Cyber Detectives

Melody’s fave: Body Metrics

Joyce’s fave: BioDesign Studio

Norm’s fave: Jet Pack Simulator

Some Notes + Tips from Melody’s Mom:

  • This was our first time at The Tech Museum. We would definitely go again for a field trip to see new exhibits. Very education, hands-on, and fun! Staff was super friendly and helpful with the whole (field trip) process. They were accommodating and flexible.
  • Tip #1: The library’s Discover and Go program gives you a discount, but not a huge discount. We calculated that our fam of 4 would have been $80+ plus parking, gas, and food.
  • Tip #2: If you plan to go on your own, add these types of things to your budget because these little extras in life that can add up over time. Okay, moving on from my detailed-orientated personality and finance-degree self…
  • Tip #3: Look at what the museum has to offer BEFORE you go so everyone is able to pick one thing they don’t want to miss. That way, it doesn’t get to the end of the day and everyone’s tired but you’ve only seen the exhibits that you were passing by instead of the ones you really wanted to see.
  • They also have Sensory Friendly Hours, which are the hours I probably should go, because all the things can be a bit overwhelming. They host hundreds of kids each day, but do a pretty good job of keeping everyone in check and with their chaperones.
  • The Tech Museum is across the street from Plaza de César Chávez where Christmas in the Park is during Christmastime, so we made our way over after 5 hours at the museum. There are also a lot of fun locations to visit in San Jose. If you aren’t in San Jose often and don’t have time limitations, look to see what activities your family would like to do and make a day of it. I saw that we were also close to Happy Hollow Park & Zoo but it was closed on this day that we were in the area.
  • After your visit, don’t forget to put in your Tech Tag info on their site. You can see all your scores from the games you play or see the things and pictures you created and more!

Have you been on a local mini-adventure lately? Where did you go?