The End of the School Year 2016

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Recently the Smith family made the big decision to move back to Florida for a new job opportunity and to be closer to family (more on all that soon!). While we are excited for this new adventure, unfortunately it means saying good-bye to many of the things we love about North Carolina. One of the harder things for us to leave is the boy’s pre-school. For the last 2 years it has been such a wonderful, safe, and loving place that our boys have grown and learned so much from. While Brady will be starting Kindergarten in a new school either way, I was still looking forward to two more years of Nolan attending First Baptist Pre-School. While we’re confident we will love the new schools in Florida, the end of the school year here in North Carolina was very bittersweet.

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I can’t say enough fantastic things about Nolan’s teacher this year. This was his first experience in school and Miss Beverley made it so memorable. He was not an easy kid to transition into school (a whole lot of separation anxiety in the beginning!) but her patience and loving nature was life changing for all of us. I am forever grateful for all that Miss Beverley taught Nolan and I even gained a little knowledge myself on how to handle pre-schoolers! By the end of the year, Nolan had so much confidence and grew to love school!

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Brady has absolutely loved school this year! The 4 year old class was so much more like “big kid school” and he thrived. I am so pleased with how his pre-reading and math skills have come along. He also had a teacher who encouraged his love of building structures and engaged him with open ended science activities. It was so fun to see how Brady’s little personality developed this year as he began to foster new friendships and become more outgoing.

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Brady’s graduation ceremony was a perfect example of how much his confidence has grown as he was chosen to be one of the flag holders during the pledge of allegiance and stand in front of all his peers. I wouldn’t have ever imagined he’d have been that brave before!

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We’re so proud of both boys and how far they’ve come this year. While we are sad to say good-bye to First Baptist Church of Garner Pre-school, we are looking forward to seeing what the future holds for our little men!

Here’s a little beginning to end comparison!

 

 

May Adventures!

If I was a scrapbooker, May would have been a fun month to document. We celebrated Mother’s Day, Brady finished 3 year old preschool, and it was the unofficial start of summer. Seeing as how I don’t have the patience to scrapbook, a blog post full of pictures will have to do! Here’s how our month went…

We hosted a neighborhood Cinco de Mayo party at the beginning of the month. Because, we’ll take any excuse to eat tacos, drink beer and hit a piñata.

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I got to attend the sweetest Mother’s Day Tea at Brady’s school and we had a mommy/son park date afterwards.

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Mother’s Day weekend was full of yummy food, personalized gifts, and time spent with my boys.

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The sweetest gift from all my boys!

We also checked out the Greensboro Science Center over Mother’s Day weekend!

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A selfie with a penguin! Happy Mother’s Day to me 🙂

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The boys were staring into the aquarium desperately waiting to see a shark. I snapped this picture right as Brady gave up and said, “I can’t find a shark anywhere!” Umm, buddy, TURN AROUND!

We were pretty busy with house projects this month (as usual.) We have been working in the yard a lot and finally got around to painting our deck.

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The boys really got a kick out of hanging out on the deck that “they painted.” Brady cracks us up when he puts his legs up and says, “This is the life.”

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May was the perfect time to go strawberry picking (several times!) As usual, Nolan ended up with more on his face than in his basket.

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Brady had his last day of 3 year old pre-school. He had such an amazing year, and we can’t wait to see how he flourishes next year!

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Once school let out, it freed us up to begin traveling a little more. We have a few big trips coming up, but we also like the freedom of being able to take some day trips around the area with the boys.

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Our new favorite pace to visit- Jordan Lake. It’s as beachy as we can get in the middle of North Carolina!

When Chris has somewhere cool to go for work, we try and tag along every once in a while. This month we hung out in the middle of a state park in Virginia while he met with clients. Never a dull moment!

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Boy, this was a precious moment…trying to get a picture of the boys hugging, then realizing they were wrestling on the side of a cliff overlooking a lake.

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The weather has warmed up in a hurry and we’ve been thankful for our backyard kiddie pool and neighborhood pool.

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May was also full of dinosaurs for us Smiths! We visited them at the museum, sorted them, drew them, found books about them at the library, and watched them on T.V. And now there’s a dino-themed birthday party for Brady in the works for June.

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May was nice and busy, and now we’re looking forward to an even busier June. Hooray for Summer!

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Dinner at the neighborhood clubhouse…ah, the charmed life of the Smith boys!

 

Asian Noodles {Farmer’s Market Finds} – Kids Cook Monday

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On Brady’s last day of school, Nolan and I enjoyed our last little bit of one on one time together by heading downtown. We spent the morning exploring the Science Museum and hitting up the Farmer’s Market again.

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Sometimes I have an ingredient in mind that I’m searching for when I go to a market, and other times I just go see what looks good and come up with a meal based around what I’ve found. This week I spotted some snow peas that looked tasty and decided to make some yummy Asian noodles- kind of a spin on Lo Mein.

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Lots of goodies at the Hilltop Farm booth that day. The snow peas just spoke to me!

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Brady helped me get our Snow Peas prepped for our Asian Noodles. He washed them up and then snapped the ends off each one (tasting a few along the way.) Even Nolan wanted to test them out! Slowly but surely I am getting that kid to try healthy foods…

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Here’s how we made our “Asian Noodles.”

Ingredients:

1/2 box Spaghetti Noodles (we used whole wheat)
2 cups Snow Peas
1 cup shredded carrots
1 clove of garlic (chopped)
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 Scallions
1 Tb. Sesame Oil
3 Tb. Low Sodium Soy Sauce
Salt, Pepper, and Red Pepper Flakes(optional) to taste

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Steps:

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt liberally and cook noodles until they’re just tender.
2. In a large pan, begin to sautee mushrooms and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes.
3. Add carrots and snow peas to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes if you would like it a little spicy.
4. Drain noodles and add to veggie pan (once veggies are tender).
5. Add Sesame oil and Soy sauce to the large pan.
6. Toss all together with thinly sliced scallions.

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You can always add a little more soy sauce if it seems to need it, so I recommend putting it in slowly and taste testing as you go. (You can’t take it out once it’s in!) Another option is to use Chili Oil in place of Sesame Oil if you (and your kiddos) can handle a little more heat.

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We love this meal because you can use just about any vegetable you have on hand. The snow peas worked great because they were just a little sweet to help balance the salt of the soy sauce. And the scallions (also a market find!) brighten the whole the dish up.

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Another perk of this meal, is that you can totally eat it cold too. It makes for a tasty side dish or can be substantial enough to be a meal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farmer’s Market Inspiration!

I’m loving this Spring weather! We have had some gorgeous days with perfect temperatures and today was one of the best. Nolan and I took the opportunity to go downtown and check out the Raleigh Farmer’s Market. It just started back up recently and I couldn’t wait to get back down there to see what was new this year, eat some tasty food and let Nolan jam out to the music. (I should note that he also really enjoys the free samples.)

They close off a portion of Fayetteville St. and set up right between the buildings.

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We got some gorgeous scallions from the Wild Onion Farms booth. (locally grown & organic!)

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Nolan was pretty into testing out the different waffle and granola flavors.

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And I couldn’t quite leave without stopping at La Farm Bakery for a baguette.

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Mmm it’s carb heaven.

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Our Farmer’s Market finds!

We decided to use some of our market goodies to make a snack. We also used some of our herbs we’ve been growing to make these yummy “Scallion and Herb Cream Cheese Cucumber Sandwiches.”

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Brady helped cut up our scallions from the market while I chopped up some basil, thyme, and parsley. We mixed them all in a bowl of softened cream cheese and a little lemon zest and salt.

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Here’s our bowl of creamy goodness!

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We spread the Scallion Cream Cheese mixture onto some slices of our market baguette and topped each one with a thin slice of cucumber.

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These were so light and refreshing. They’d make a delicious appetizer or finger food for a party.

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The fact that some of our ingredients came straight from local farmers and bakers, made this snack that much tastier!

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Crunchy, creamy, and satisfying!

 

 

Strawberry Yogurt Pops- Kids Cook Monday

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It’s strawberry season here in Raleigh! Recently we went to a farm by our house to pick a whole ton of strawberries (and there may have been some tasting along the way.)

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Strawberry goatee! Clearly someone was doing more tasting than collecting.

We enjoyed our strawberries on strawberry shortcakes made with lemon poundcake (yum!), and smoothies, and just eating them plain, but I decided to use some for our first attempt at homemade popsicles. One of my besties, Lindsay, sent Nolan a popsicle kit for his birthday recently, so this was the perfect time to try it out.

These were extremely simple to make and with 4 basic ingredients they were a much healthier alternative to store bought pops. Brady did most of the work for this recipe. Here’s how it went down…

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Ingedients:
About 2 Cups of Fresh Strawberries
1 container of Greek Yogurt (we used Vanilla)
About 1 Tbs. lemon juice
About 1/4 to 1/3 cup of honey (sweeten to taste)

Steps:

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Add strawberries, yogurt, lemon juice, and honey to blender. Blend until completely smooth. Taste test- Add more honey if needed.

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Pour fruit mixture into your popsicle mold. Set in freezer for at least 4 hours.

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Use a little warm water to loosen the popsicles out of the molds, and then enjoy! The boys sure did.

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Thanks for the sweet gift, Auntie Lindsay! I’m sure we’ve got a lot of popsicle making in our future this summer. So easy, and so yummy!

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Mommy/Smith Boys weekend

This past weekend my hubby went back home to Texas to visit some old friends and family. It was a much needed trip, but unfortunately it came on the heels of him being away for work, so me and my little guys had a real nice stretch of quality time without daddy. And by that I mean, I had to get pretty creative to come up with fun stuff to entertain them so they wouldn’t spend all weekend looking at me saying, “When’s Daddy coming home?”

As a teacher, I loved lesson planning, so I was up for the challenge of planning some engaging activities that went beyond watching Paw Patrol and playing in our front yard. I’m not saying we didn’t do that too, but it was a long week/weekend so I needed more in my arsenal. Here’s how we spent our time…

Friday was a rainy day, so we spent it trying out a new game, playing with shaving cream, and going to the mall.

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Sweet Brady was obsessed with this fish game!

When all else fails, play in the kids area and eat Chick-fil-a at the mall.

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Straight from my bag of old teaching tricks…kids LOVE shaving cream!

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On Saturday, we had gorgeous weather. It was the perfect day to check out the Museum of Life Science in Durham. Or as I now like to call it, the Disney World of Durham. Good gosh, this place was amazing for kids. We were there all day and could have stayed longer! Thank you, thank you, thank you, to whoever created this place.

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Train selfies!

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On Sunday, we got up and made banana muffins together.

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Then we went to the airport to watch the planes take off and land, and of course, pick up Chris!

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We went straight downtown from the airport for a food truck rodeo.

And blissfully, Chris will be working from home ALL week this week. Woohoo!

I loved my one on one time with my boys, but it always feels better when our foursome is back together!

Earth Day- Kids Cook Monday

This Wednesday, April 22nd, is Earth Day. I recently saw a post from the website, http://www.produceforkids.com  about some easy ways to celebrate this special day with little ones. I will admit, I was expecting a list of complicated tasks that inevitably would include a Pinterest-y type project…although I’m not exactly sure how that would help our Earth. Anyways, I was pleasantly surprised to see the list was so do-able, and that we (and probably you too!) love doing many of the ideas mentioned. Here’s some of the ways us Smiths are celebrating Earth Day this week- and most weeks!

1. Go “meatless” once a week. You guys, this is so simple. There are so many yummy meatless meals out there and if we all participated in this, it would make such a difference for our planet. For instance, did you know…?!

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2. Shop for local produce and ingredients. We’re so lucky to have lived in places with great access to local, fresh produce whenever we needed it. Our family loves to hit up Farmer’s Markets to see what looks tasty and is in season. We have a really big market that is open year round and you can really find some great deals. Plus, the kids enjoy going and you really cut down on the amount of fuel/costs needed to transport your food to you.

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Brady- “I’ll take those carrots. Those right there.”

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Our market finds this week.

3. Plant a garden. In Pennsylvania we had produce out the ying yang. There was a peach tree, pear tree, plum tree, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers and squash in our yard. It was awesome! I’d love to get back into that kind of gardening again, especially now that the kids are at a fun age for helping me with it. For now, we are starting with some potted herbs. I love having fresh herbs on hand for all kinds of recipes. And what better way to teach kiddos about taking care of the Earth, than by showing them how we can grow and care for our own produce.

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Brady was smelling the mint!

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We’re growing Thyme, Mint, Basil and Flat Leaf Parsley.

4. And finally, my favorite way to celebrate Earth Day is to cook together! You can never underestimate the importance of teaching our kids where their food comes from and how to prepare it. Think of the impact we could make on our planet if the next generation focused on cooking and eating real food and we could reduce the amount of pre-packaged food waste that we create.

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Today we used our market Asparagus and made a super simple tasty side dish. (Even Nolan ate some Asparagus!!) All we did was wash and chop our Asparagus, sauté them in some Olive Oil and butter, and then tossed them with some lemon juice and some of the Thyme and Parsley we just planted. Finally we topped it all with some shredded Parmesan cheese. So easy!

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Herbed Parmesan Asparagus. This bowl just screams Spring!

Happy Earth Day Y’all! May you find lots of tasty things to grow and eat on our Earth!

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