A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin 2 Ways

I love love LOVE baking anything with pumpkin. It signals fall, Harvest, Thanksgiving, family, yummy things, crackling leaves, changing colors, boots, jackets, bonfires ... and makes a delicious warm feeling in your house, doesn't it? Walking into a house and you KNOW something's been in the oven is soooooo good!

And I just love the flavor. I like it in many things, though, not just classic pumpkin pie. In fact, I think there are probably many things I like that are made with pumpkin more than I like pumpkin pie. We bake up a storm of pumpkin muffins in our house, mainly because Jonah will eat them, and I like to make pumpkin bars, rather than pie. One, you don't have the roll out a crust, and two, you can make the base crust layer healthier than you would ever get a pie crust to be!

But last week I discovered a new recipe ... thanks, Gina! I have a classic cinnamon roll recipe from my mom that I make on a semi-regular basis, but this recipe completely intrigued me. Tried it a few days later, and everyone loved 'em! I sent some home with my sister for her and her hubby to eat, and Jonah and Eli enjoyed cinnamon rolls for breakfast the next day. I still love my tried and true recipe, but one thing I love about these pumpkin cinnamon rolls was how moist they were the second day. Super good! Try try try!

And I finally got on the pumpkin smoothie wagon. Perhaps it is just because, in general, I'm much more into smoothies than I was last year = ) Either way, I made Eli and I pumpkin pie smoothies for breakfast on Saturday, and we both agreed they were super good! And super simple ...

1 c. canned pumpkin
1 frozen banana
1 c. milk - your choice!
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
*Blend and enjoy! Serves two.

Of course these are all over the internet and blogs. I wasn't too concerned with exact measurements when I made mine, to be honest, but this is my best guess on what went in there. The taste of pumpkin pie without the guilt.

I think I have many more things to be made. I picked up three more cans of pumpkin today at Aldi ... not with any specific plans as of yet, but there isn't a lack of ideas out there. If anyone has any good ones, send them my way!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pumpkin Carving

The Fall Bucket List continues! We're getting somewhere with it, and having fun along the way! Each year for the past several, we've carved pumpkins at the Brooks' house. I wasn't too sure that this year it was going to happen. Eli was gone last weekend for four days, He has had school to get done, the family in general has been busy during the evenings ... the bigger we get, the harder it is to coordinate days to get together for something like this!

But when I mentioned it to Eli, he was definitely wanting to do it. Honestly, I don't ever actually carve the pumpkins. He does. He is the artistic one, and the one much more handy with a knife! So, we called up his mom, and rustled up about half the family together! Good enough, right? It actually was a bit chaotic, because Jonah was apparently exhausted, and spent the entire time Eli was working on Reuben's pumpkin, crying, because he was sure Daddy wouldn't get to carving his pumpkin. Sigh. And then at the end, Matthias was starting to fall asleep, so I was trying to get us finished and out the door to get him to bed in his own bed!

BUT, it happened! The boys l.o.v.e. their pumpkins. Eli, as always, impresses me with what he does with pumpkins. And Melissa brought Tirzah, and we had veggies, dip, and roasted sweet potato fries. All good, right?

And now the boys look back to last night, and it was a blast! = ) Eli assures me that is how all men process things. The story is much better afterwards.

We worked to get some good pictures of them lit - tough to do when the children don't do great at sitting still, but you can still see his handiwork.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


In my workouts, I'm trying to spend some dedicated time on my legs. Teaching classes, I do lots of jumping all around, squat jumps, jumping lunges, etc etc.! But as I have lost and continue to work on losing pregnancy weight, my legs aren't quite "bouncing" back like I thought! Ah well, it really isn't the end of the world, because Matthias is definitely worth a little leg jiggle = ) But, it also doesn't mean I can't put in a little effort to tone back up around my glutes and hamstrings. And thanks Natalie for the reminder to pick up some heavy weights while doing this! Sometimes you just need a friend to re-point you back in a good direction ...

So, I've done some early morning workouts at home in our makeshift basement workout area, and tried to get in a few in the last month at the gym, but I miss said workout friend mentioned above! Workouts ARE much more fun with a friend. So, I roped Lisa, another trainer/my boss at the gym, into meeting me twice this week for some LEGS.

Yesterday morning was my morning to put together the workout and here's what we did:
*six rounds total, 10 reps each move/leg*
1. Deadlifts, 65# first two sets, 85# second two sets, 105# third two sets
2. Plie Squats, 40# Dumbbell
3. Box Step Ups, 10# Dumbbells overhead
4. Side Lunges, 25# Plate

It started out feeling pretty good, but by the fifth and sixth sets, we were sweating and getting tired! Lisa put it perfectly: "We're sweaty and lifting heavy things. All good." = )

In a nutshell, it was a great start to my Tuesday. We'll see what she has planned for us tomorrow ...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Evening Sillies

Eli was gone over the weekend for four days. Good reason to be gone - he was taking teens on a youth retreat! But, since the boys are so little, not a lot of reason to have them all three tag along, because then I would just be trying to keep them busy there ... and Matthias still can't be left at home. Too much to coordinate this time! Maybe next time I will be able to go! I want to = )

So, we had lots of Mommy and little boys time over the weekend together. It went great overall, excepting lack of sleep for me, but isn't that the way that it goes?

One evening, we took out the boys' preschool bags and just starting being silly with them ... because what else would you do in the house for the third night in a row with no Daddy to wrestle around with?

Reuben was the one who got the style goin' first!

Jonah L.O.V.E.S. to make silly faces whenever the camera is pulled out!

And this little cutie? He just happily watched everyone else be silly, and had lots of fun giggling and rolling around while the big boys showed off!

See that drool drip on the chin? Love it!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cookies and CrossFit

I finally got one item crossed off our fall bucket list! Sugar Cookies! Holidays mean a great time to make cut-out sugar cookies. The boys LOVE this. They get to help make the dough, roll it out, cut the shapes (taste leftovers pieces - of course!), and then decorate. I've gone pretty simple in terms of decorating sugar cookies in the last couple years. Rather than a traditional buttercream or anything, I just make a simple glaze with powdered sugar and milk, color it, and let the boys drizzle it on and spread around. Easy peasy. Sometimes when we do cookies with my in-laws, my mother-in-law gets fancier and we have fun with that too! But, I'm going for a quick and easy decorating time. = )
We made the dough on Thursday, chilled it so we could bake and glaze on Friday, and then this afternoon, we made some royal frosting to write friends' names on the cookies so the boys can take some to church to share. Because we don't need three dozen cookies sitting around the house! The last 24 hours has already been torture to them because they just want to eat cookies! Time to share! = )
And today, I went to a CrossFit training, of sorts, with the other trainers from our gym. It was a combo training, we listened and asked questions and get lots of info and good re-motivation to give our clients the best workout possible to get them to a great state of fitness! And then did some hands-on work, working on form, technique, etc., before they put us through a short but intense workout!

But I always love a good workout! = ) It was fun. Made me realize I completely stink at pull-ups ... but now that may become a personal goal of mine. It was good to have someone pushing yelling at me to work a bit harder and give more. I push my clients, but it is good to have someone do the same back to me! And it is ALWAYS good to remember why I love even the small amount of personal training that I do ... and how amazing it is to see ladies reach goals and go past those goals!
And now ... the boys are in bed. I'm headed there myself. Praying Matthias won't have bad nights like he has the last two. And I will leave you with a classic Reuben story ...
Putting him to bed, he said, "Mom, it will be awesome when we get to go to heaven!" Yes, Reuben, it will! "And I will get to tell Jesus I am sorry for all the bad things that I do." Well, yes, but Jesus forgives us now when we say we are sorry. "No, I just want to say sorry in heaven." But, sometimes you say sorry here, like when you need to say sorry to Mom when you do something naughty.      Pause.     "Mom, I would rather wait and say sorry in heaven."
And then he rolls over. And that is Reuben. Ornery. = ) That child tries my patience every day, and tries to see what he can get away with. Pretending he didn't hear me, or trying to make up little lies to get away with not brushing his teeth or using the bathroom when asked. Sigh. Good thing it is time for bed.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

6 Months Old

Seems like we were just here ...
But we're already here!
Matthias is six months old today. In one sense, he has been a part of our family for a long time! But, in another sense, how on earth did he get to be six months old? He is cracking us up constantly with his silly giggles and coos ... and can make Momma melt when he reaches his little arms to my neck and SQUEEZES with everything in him! He loves to give hugs when he is excited to see someone.
He is figuring out that there are people he doesn't know as well ... when someone is holding him, he'll sometimes push back away from their chest and study their face. You can tell he is trying to figure out who is holding him! Or he reaches his little hands up to touch their cheeks with a puzzled look on his face. But he does great going to the gym with me, and really, the kid is just happy! He loves to smile at people and get them to smile back at him. Each one has been sooooo different. And Matthias just has a joyful spirit within him - and is VERY social!

He is rolling all over the place. Legos are a must-keep-out-of-the-living-room toy. I lay him down in one place, turn around for one second, and he is on the other side of the room! He doesn't really push up onto his knees at all yet, but you can tell he knows that there must be someway to get to what he wants! Once he can crawl, he will love it!
His sleeping is still unpredictable. Every now and then I get a night where he only wakes twice, but often he still cries about four times a night. Sigh. S.O.M.E.D.A.Y. But, I think we have improvement! = )
Last week he tried his first baby cereal. He is doing good .. this week we're still just having one serving at dinner time. He doesn't eat a ton of it, but he likes it. I'm sure once we're introduce other foods that actually taste good, he'll love it! He's always interested when others are eating.
One of his favorite things to do is ride around in the front pack. I put him in at youth group, or the grocery store, or wherever, and he cheeres right up. Flaps his arms, kicks his legs, and generally must feel quite on top of his little world.
The brothers are still just as indulgent and crazy over him as they were at the beginning. They fight over who gets to "talk to him" when they first wake up in the  morning and really still are good helpers if I need them to entertain him for a few minutes.
All in all? Still a heck of a lot of work with these three boys ... but goodness! How I love 'em!
(and thanks for reading a post of just baby-ness ...)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I just realized as I typed the title of this post, that I could probably write about de-cluttering my brain ... but I think I will have to save that one for a bit later! = ) This one is about my house.

Agh, my house. I'm not even going to try and blame the clutter on the size of the house. Because I know all too well it doesn't matter the size of the house, clutter can still take over. My house may not be large, but that does not mean it is impossible to keep neat. Now, since I three small children, my "neat" may not be the picked upness of those with no kids, but I can still fight the clutter fight. Right?

I despise clutter. I like walking into rooms, and NOT seeing piles of things in corners, along the sides of the wall, heck, in the middle of the room! I like things looking neat. When the house is clean, I feel at peace. The problem is - somehow, I create clutter. I am terrible, repeat - TERRIBLE, about stacking things everywhere! Maybe in organized piles, but not really putting away, finding homes, or getting rid of ... Eli always tells me: "You have to act like it cannot stay there any longer. Find a home or get rid of it! Don't stack it!"

Trying! Maybe, I think?

Anyway, the past two weeks, I'm really looking around my house and feeling slightly defeated about how cluttered it really is. I feel kinda, well, embarrassed about the clutter. Why on earth do I have this much stuff anyway? If it doesn't fit, I just want it gone! The defeated part comes into play because my time feels really limited right now. School, work, Eli's work/school, homeschool, preschool, general cleaning of kitchens/bathrooms/laundry/etc. You know how it goes! How can I attack and room and really "do it" so that it is cleaned up, cleaned out, and bags of stuff go away from it and don't come back!?!? It's not really an organization problem, it is just a too much stuff problem. And goodness, what good is stuff, really? It just accumulates. We have a saying on our wall: "The Best Things In Life Aren't Things". And after living in our house 7+ years, "things" are all over. Time to re-focus.

I can't dedicate a day to a room. Just won't happen right now. So, my plan is this: 10 minutes a day. If I will commit to spend 10 minutes each to de-cluttering. I think I will see some results. Might take longer than I like, but I still want the results. So, I have to do it! I want to do it.

It's now on my daily list, right after Jonah's school. 10 MINUTES. I spent 10 dedicated minutes in my bedroom, and I was amazed at the results! I found things that desperately needed to be put in their correct home, threw away quite a bit, and finally re-found the top of my dresser. Happy Sigh. Later on in the day, I walked into my room, and felt so ... happy. Peaceful. It's actually quite crazy how much better it looks. Truthfully, I'm sure it could use another 10 minute moment, but I think I will spend some time the next couple days on the living room/dining room area. And see where I am at the end of the week!

Every room has goals ... and I want to stick with this! And perhaps, but the time in November we're getting ready to put up Christmas stuff, the other clutter will be much less! I also hope we can go through ALL the toys in this house and clean out thru those as well, as we look forward to Christmastime. Share with others and throw away broken ones.

So, for the few that read my blog, keep me accountable! I would love to get reminders to keep at it and not get discouraged when it seems like no change is happening! And let's hope in a few weeks, my 10 minute times will have added up for big results.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pajama Party

When we geared up to start Jonah in homeschooling this year, Eli created a big chart for me that I taped on the inside of the door leading to the basement. It had all of Jonah's subjects listed out, and was a sticker chart so that each day, he could mark off what he had accomplished! It helps give him a visual picture of what he has done/needs to do each day, and also helps keep me on track as well! I'm a chart/list person in general, and I wouldn't be lying to say that he seems to have inherited some of that trait as well! = )

I promised him that once the chart was completely full (six weeks worth of school), he would be rewarded with a "party day". I didn't expound on what party day exactly meant: truth be told, I didn't have a specific plan, but wanted to throw out the motivation, and we would figure it out closer to the time!

Closer to the time came along, pretty quickly!!!!!, and once Jonah realized we were going to be able to "plan" his party day, he quickly decided to have a pajama party. He remembers having a pajama party day from preschool last year. I jumped right on board! Pajama party defined by Jonah means:
1) wear pajamas;
2) watch a movie;
3) have a snack.
Perfect and easy plan!

Entranced by the movie ....

We invited over our friends ... another homeschooling family - four kids that we go to church with, have known forever, and has one AMAZING mom who runs that house! They were totally game. They came over at 1:30, all in the jammies, played for awhile, watched How To Train A Dragon with their brownies and drinks, and then played outside in the backyard for awhile after! And Jeni and I just got to visit while the kids played, and it has been waaayyy too long since I have had a chat fest like that with her!

Gotta love a fun afternoon like that sandwiched in between many busy days. I am hoping pajama party days become almost like a regular fun day that we get every month or so. The kids had so much fun together, and it was a good little break for the mommas as well.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Add a little Protein

So, I'm trying to make sure that I eat enough protein. Yup. I am just not a meat lover! Sometimes, a really good steak tastes amazing, and I do like chicken, but I just don't "crave" it, you know? Not the way that Eli wants meat in every meal. That's just not me! Carrots and hummus? Why, yes, I'll take it. A bowlful of roasted veggies? Delish.

But as I also dedicate time in many of my days to working out and trying to incorporate some good weight lifting as a part of my workouts, I got a nudge from a trusted source to make sure that I'm getting enough protein, and to probably up how much I have been eating. I think I ate more protein when I was pregnant ... I did crave it then, come to think of it! But, now, not as much.

So, each day, looking and making sure that protein is in there. The other morning I got home from the gym, poured yesterday's leftover coffee that I had stashed in the fridge in a cup, iced it, and added some protein powder. And that, my friends, was good! I don't do that everyday, but I was feeling too lazy to make a smoothie, I was hot, thirsty, and it worked!

And then I've been keeping THESE around lately:

Completely re-did a recipe I stumbled across for a type of peanut butter ball, and turned into a protein ball with ALL good ingredients! Loving them. Took some to the gym to share, and Eli has grabbed a couple to have with apples in the morning. The best part about them is that you can really make them any way you want. I've used whole wheat flour, I've been currently using peanut flour because I happen to have it, you could add in mini chocolate chips, raisins, etc etc.! Don't like coconut? Leave it out? It is one of those that can be customized to fit anyone - at least, if you like peanut butter!

But, here's my original recipe ...

1/2 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. applesauce (I used homemade)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 T. protein powder (I use vanilla because that is what we have)
3 T. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. rolled oats
2 T. flaked coconut
*Mix your first three ingredients together and then stir in the dry ingredients. Once you've got the texture you like, roll into balls!

Try and enjoy! And if you ARE one of those, like me, who finds themselves working out frequently, double check your protein intake and make sure it is sufficient!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pumpkin Patch!

Thursday morning we went to the pumpkin patch ... one of the most looked-forward-to yearly events on our house! Literally, when we pulled into the parking lot, Jonah shouted (not so good sounding in a closed vehicle) at the top of his lungs: "THE PUMPKIN PATCH! WE'RE HERE!!!!" It has been long-awaited ... it also signals fall to the boys:
- painting pumpkins for decorations
- making fall cutout cookies and decorating
- thinking of costumes for the church's Harvest Party
- of course, candy from the Harvest Party = )
- changing leaf colors
- fall crafts!
- and anything else you can think of ...

This was actually another preschool outing. But since we normally go to the pumpkin patch all together at some point anyway, we all just went with Reuben's class! It's a pretty low-key field trip, the class rides the hayrack ride together, but everyone kind of picks pumpkins on their own, and then joins back up for snack together. After that, kids/parents can decide if they want to stick around or leave. They have a hay bale maze, playgrounds, chickens/pheasants/cow/horses, and all sorts of things to poke around at and in!

The morning was chillier than the weather had been, but the sun was poking through the clouds while we were there, and we had a great time! Matthias enjoyed kicking in the front pack for the first half, until he got tired, and then I held the sleeping babe in the sheltered store area while the boys ran more after they had picked out pumpkins.

Silly Cousins!

Daddy and boys ... Matthias was asleep at this point!

 The boys' cousin, Nathaniel, is in Reuben's class, so he was there with his Mommy and Daddy, and played with the boys! It was fun. Such a good fall activity - and besides paying for a few pumpkins, completely free to enjoy! Gotta love that. Of course, I took pictures and didn't make it into any myself, but I still go the event captured! Score!

What is this thing, guys?

What do you do with it?

Eat it? Of course!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fire Station Fun!

Over a week ago, Reuben's preschool class met at local fire station to meet fire fighters and see all that is inside a fire station! I was so blessed that Eli took the hour and a half to take Reuben. I would have LOVED to go, but I would have had Matthias in a front pack, Jonah with me as well ... and that day was sandwiched between our two trips. So, my brain was thinking laundry/cleaning/organizing/seeing the boys/etc. So Eli and Reuben headed off on an adventure for Reuben!

This is Reuben's classic smile when asked to smile for the camera ...

He came home, running in the front door, and yes, it is in caps because that's how loud he was talking: "MOM!!!! I MET A R.E.A.L.  L.I.V.E.  FIREMAN!!!!!!!!!!"
The beauty of three year olds and their wonder at life!
He had a fabulous time. Eli said he was wanting to try everything they offered ... into the trucks, trying on hats, and getting use the water hose! What a time for a three year old!

Seriously??? I think Eli was probably jealous of this activity!

I am hoping to go back to one with all the boys, and meet up with some of my friends in town who homeschool or have preschool aged kids and we can have our own little field trip. Jonah is itching to go now himself ... = )