It was our last week before school starts and we made the most of it!
It all began last Sunday
Getting everyone off to church (or anywhere) is quite a production. But the there’s this sweetness as we were brushing hair and putting on dresses…
We are so blessed to begin each week by hosting whoever God brings to our home for Sunday lunch. Now that we are more settled after our move, we are able to prepare a big meal and fill the house. There were 26 of us this particular Sunday. Our kitchen was full, our dining room spilled over into our living room, and I felt so cared for by God that He would give us this gift.
Big Family Food and Fun
I had made brunch foods for this Sunday Lunch: This Egg Casserole (multiplied to include 36 eggs and 3-pounds of sausage), Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Muffins, Raspberry Oatmeal Bars (made with blueberry jelly instead because that’s what I had in the fridge), strawberries, grapes, and raw veggies.
Remember how I said that I’ve decided to save money by skipping the butter in my Stick of Butter Rice?? (<— it tastes the same with or without it, so…) Well, look how much butter it takes to make this small pan of Raspberry Oatmeal Bars. Hahaha, I will never skimp on the butter in this one, and it’s WORTH IT. These are incredible. Because of the butter. :)
So many dear friends joined us for our Sunday meal, and our friend Cindy brought her delicious Mac and Cheese and Cowboy Caviar (similar to this recipe) with chips to share with everyone.
We rested in the afternoon after our guests left, and for dinner that evening I made this Creamy Mac and Cheese. Then I warmed up leftover taco meat and opened a can of tuna. What??? Ah, but I had a method to my madness. Whoever wanted to add tuna to their mac and cheese turned their meal into Tuna Casserole. But whoever added taco meat to their mac and cheese turned their meal into Cheeseburger Mac. We ate this with buttered peas and watermelon.
That night the weather was beautiful so we headed out for a walk. We heard live music nearby so we decided to follow our ears to see where they took us!
How fun! There was a church nearby who was hosting a free event for the community. There was live music, a lady making balloon creations for the kids, and Kona Ice. We enjoyed the music and had fun with our balloon creations.
Monday morning I had to take two of our girls to an appointment so I threw bananas, yogurt tubes, and leftover bars onto the table for breakfast.
Late morning Elias made three frozen Costco pizzas and we loaded all the kids into the van to eat at the zoo. (Matt had gone to York for the day.)
We enjoyed our pizza along with peach cups and juice, then we let the kids play in a big play area next to the spider monkeys before heading home for naps.
That night we joined two of our neighbor families for a super fun meal of hotdogs and smores.
Ah, and water balloons!!
We are so very thankful that God provided us with such a wonderful neighborhood full of wonderful people to do life with. We all need this.
In York on Monday, Matt got 10 dozen eggs from our neighbors. It feels good to be stocked up again!
Tuesday morning I mixed up a double recipe of Bran Muffins. Plus I made a double batch of Applesauce Bread and “baked” them in my crock pots. It sort of worked. The outside became a bit overdone while we waited for the middle to finish baking. Then it fell apart as I was taking it out of the crocks. But it still tasted good!
I packed crumbly pieces into a container to take to the zoo for another picnic.
Malachi hadn’t been to the zoo with us yet since so much of the summer he had been away for work and camps. So we were all excited to show him all we’d discovered all summer. We decided that our extra zoo fun for today would be to feed the giraffes.
On our way to have lunch with the flamingos (we love flamingos, plus there’s a perfect picnic table right by them!), we stopped to show Malachi the penguins.
It was well past lunchtime by then and Acacia decided she couldn’t wait. Before I realized it, she had pulled out the Apple Bread – and spilled all of it onto the cement. Then of course all the little girls rushed over to eat off the ground. Yuck. I hated to waste it but we scooped it up into the trash and decided to make our way to the table to actually feed everyone finally.
Lunch that day was crackers with cheese, turkey, and ham plus applesauce or peach cups, dried blueberries, and juice. But no apple bread, ha.
For dinner that night, a new friend joined us and we ate Costco’s tortelloni with sauce and steamed broccoli.
Wednesday morning we ate more of the Bran Muffins, which I cut in half, buttered, and warmed in the air fryer. They are so good this way!
For lunch I made Hashbrown and Egg Nests with ham included. These went over very well!! I made extras on purpose so we could warm them up for quick breakfasts next week before school.
Matt was in York again that day, so Malachi went with me to the mall so the kids could run off some energy in the play area there before naptime.
Justus and Kelsey joined us for dinner that night. I smoked two pork loin, warmed up leftover green beans and broccoli, stir fried some squash and zucchini, and made several boxes of mac and cheese.
I had also baked a cake that afternoon – and of course I had snuck in a bunch of spinach. This was a fun treat for dessert!
Our dear friend Phyllis came to visit us Thursday morning. We showed her around the Castle, took her on a walk to show her the Sunken Gardens, then came home and made grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch.
The way she pours love into our kid is priceless.
By the way, being able to make make grilled cheese or pancakes on this amazing griddle built into our stove is sooooo nice! Also, I used Havarti cheese slices from Costco. WOW. That cheese is a game changer for sandwiches.
Meanwhile, would you believe? Our friend Barbara had read in an email I sent out earlier in the week about our Great Apple Bread Spill at the zoo. She secretly made us a large loaf to replace what we lost and her hubby dropped it off that morning while we were gone. What precious friends. I told our kids: remember this, guys. We can offer special gifts of love to others too. :) :) :)
After we got the kids down for naps and rest time, I ran out the door to get groceries and a few last minute needed school clothes items. I got a lot of produce at Costco (plus jeans for the kids that I found marked down!).
Then I went to Aldi to get yogurt, milk, buns, and rolls.
When I got home, we worked together to unload groceries (which sounds much sweeter than it actually was – after I’ve been gone the kids usually go a little crazy when I get back, oy). Matt had baked frozen pizzas and I made smoothies to go with it so we could have a quick dinner (which sounds much sweeter than it was because the little girls spilled their smoothies and turned dinner into a huge mess, oy).
We cleaned up and rushed out the door for a Walk to School Night so the kids could meet their teachers and see their classrooms. It had been an extra crazy hour of putting away groceries and feeding everyone (and cleaning up smoothie spills) so we were VERY happy that right before we left, Kelsey texted to see if we wanted her help getting to the school that night. YES PLEASE.
Getting ready for company
Friday morning we enjoyed Barbara’s Apple Bread before getting our house ready for our first overnight guests at the Castle!
The family we were getting ready to host is a family of 8, so all of our meals were about to become extra large! I got out this huge bag of chicken thighs and dumped marinade right into the bag so I could smoke it that night for our dinner.
I also baked a double batch of Chocolate Chip Muffins for Saturday’s breakfast.
And made a huge pan of brownies. :)
When the kids started to get squirrely, we packed a picnic, put on their swimsuits, and headed to the splash park.
I had air fried a big box of Taquitos (from Sam’s) for our picnic that day. It worked great! We ate them with clementines, yogurt, and cookies.
During naptime, our friends arrived!!!!! This family is incredibly dear to us. Since the girls were napping, we wasted no time getting out cards to play our mutually favorite game of Nertz. I was ridiculously rusty as I haven’t played in years. So I got a terrible score but it sure was fun!
We smoked the marinated chicken at dinnertime, cut up watermelon and brownies…
….made steamed green beans, buttered corn, and oh yeah. I had washed and thrown a bunch of potatoes into a crock pot before leaving for the Splash Park so that they could bake and be ready for dinner.
Our table was full and it was perfect.
After dinner, we took our friends on a walk to the Sunken Gardens so they could enjoy the beauty with us.
We are a large parade when just our family goes, but adding the Brocks must have been quite a show as we walked from our house to the garden. There were 19 of us out with our strollers, wagon, and kids/adults on foot. :)
We had popsicles when we got back because we had earned them. :) Then we got all the kids showered and to bed, quite the ordeal!!
When I woke up the next morning I was planning in my head how I would take advantage of the extra hands available to give my kitchen floor a much-needed sweep and mop. But look what I woke up to!!!! A beautifully clean kitchen with scrubbed floors. SO SWEET. Thank you, Brocks!!
I set out a breakfast buffet of sausage, bacon, muffins, bread, fruit, Cream Cheese Fruit Dip, and yogurt. It was simple and good.
After breakfast, we packed a sub sandwich lunch and headed out to the zoo for a few hours.
Here are 17 of us (Kelsey joined us too but was the one taking the picture). :)
We found our favorite picnic tables by the flamingos to enjoy our sandwiches, chips, fruit, juice, and brownies. We were our own zoo at the zoo, but it was so great to be together.
We made it home by 1:45 and got the four littlest down for naps. The rest of us cleaned up and got ready to go to a wedding – and from that point on, I got no pictures. Boo. The wedding was for our long-time friend Jacob and his bride Sarah, and it was beautiful.
TODAY is mine and Matt’s 29th anniversary. :) I love going to weddings as a reminder of where we came from, so the timing is perfect. Here’s to a brand new week and a Christ-focused new year of our marriage!