Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

Gluten-free Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

Gluten-free Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

This is one of our favorite snacks in our household. This makes a great snack or even an easy dessert, especially if it’s right out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream :)

We make ours with gluten-free flour. While we don’t have an allergy to gluten, we do try our best to eat healthy and cut down on our gluten intake. I do like finding recipes where I can easily substitute flour for gluten-free flour and it still have it taste delicious.

I found this recipe from The Pioneer Woman.


Strawberry Oatmeal Bars
Ingredients:

  • 1-3/4 stick Cold Butter, Cut Into Pieces
  • 1-1/2 cup All-purpose Flour, or gluten-free flour
  • 1-1/2 cup Oats (quick Or Regular)
  • 1 cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 jar (10 To 12 Ounce) Strawberry Preserves, or any other preserves you prefer

Preparation Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 or 8 x 10 baking dish.

Mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle half the mixture into the pan and pat lightly to pack it a little tight. Spoon preserves evenly over the surface, then use a dinner knife to carefully spread it around. Sprinkle the other half of the oat mixture over the top and pat lightly again.

Bake until light golden brown on top, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in pan.

When cool, cut into squares and serve.

Learning to Have Fun

I realize this is a no-brainer for most people… the concept of having fun. But somewhere along the way Michael and I let our lives get completely imbalanced. All work, little play. We put too much focus, attention and energy on our kids and not enough on ourselves. We’re working on fixing this. I think it really hit me when I took that photography class; to do something on my own for myself, I didn’t realize how foreign that was for me until I took that class and actually enjoyed myself and learned how to take better photos of my kiddos. To be out of the house those few hours, I came back refreshed; I came back a better wife and mom. And then I just went back to being the motherhood martyr again.

Michael and I realize now that we need to have fun, we need to relax…the world doesn’t revolve our four boys, but for us it’s easy to get there. I’m blessed that my parents live close and that they really take the initiative to watch the boys so we can have some down time to ourselves. But I do feel guilty many a time for leaving the boys because I know it’s not easy to have to watch 4 kiddos and my parents and/or sister are always the go-to for that. Granted, they never complain and I know they love doing it because they’re usually the ones prompting the invitation. And I know the boys enjoy their time with them too. I need to just let go and be okay with it. I’m learning to get there. It’s so easy to say I can’t do xyz because I have 4 kids, but I was using the same excuse when it was just 1 and 2 kids. I know my parents wouldn’t offer if it was a burden, so I’m working on getting over it. I shouldn’t feel like that. And honestly after 4 kids, it doesn’t take much pushing on my parents’ part to get us out…I need the sanity check at times.

So yes I’m learning to have fun on my own, with my husband and with my kids. Maybe I’ll take my laptop and grab an Auntie Ann’s pretzel and blog, just to be out of the house. Michael and I are going to schedule time to go on bike rides; maybe take a vacation just the 2 of us. With the boys, it’s easy for me to get wrapped up in lesson plans and worksheets; I’m working on incorporating hands-on activities with the boys’ schooling. I want learning to be fun and exciting for them. I’m learning to play with them…even floor hockey. The boys loved it when I was their goalie. We’re hoping to take more family vacations. These are all things that we’re going to make a priority.

mom_goalie

We’re reading the Little House on the Prairie with the boys. I’ve never read these books and I’m totally captivated by it, right along with the boys. It’s really reinforced the concept of God first, marriage second and children third (which I recall hearing or reading somewhere as well). In the book, after Pa built their cabin with his bare hands, he made a bed. I was shocked that it wasn’t for the children, yet for him and Ma instead. I feel like I’m all about catering to the children, probably a little too much, but Pa was right for making the bed for them first and later for the children. After all the kids are young and can handle sleeping on the floor far better than us older parents. The parents should have a nice, comfortable bed to sleep in, just makes sense. After reading that, I realized how out of whack my priorities are.

For me, having fun takes effort and I live in the fog of exhaustion every day that it seems easier to just be, but I realize the effort will be worth it.

I finally scheduled a long overdue playdate with a family from church and I’m so glad I did. I hesitate on doing playdates because my house is usually a mess and you never know how unruly the kids may be that day, but I finally realized I just have to do these things. No one really cares what my house looks like and if the boys are having a bad day so be it. The boys were out-of-control, crazy this morning, so I assumed it was not going to go well, but in the end the boys were great. They were hospitable to our guests and everyone played well together. I got to relate to another mom and have adult conversation. Noah is definitely my child…presenting our guests with snacks and taking their lunch orders. He was happy to make an original Noah sandwich for everyone. It was a great time.

So here goes to learning to have some much needed fun :)

 

7 Quick Takes

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There’s no shortage of funny quotes from the boys…here are some of favorites from this week:

As I was getting ready one morning, the boys were going through my makeup drawer. Levi picked up my eye lash curler, when Eli informed him, “That’s an eye curler. It will turn you into a girl.”


As Levi was playing with gak pretending to be a chef with his toy kitchen knife, he said, “I’m using a Bobby Flay knife!”


Noah: “How many more days of suffering are left?”


Noah: “I really dislike sightfood, I mean seafood.”

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Isaac turned 8 months old this week! Check out the cuteness overload here!

isaac_8mths2

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The playroom is finally complete! It took me a month to complete, so I’m glad it’s finally done! (I made some updates to the original post.)

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This upcoming week we will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick is Noah’s patron saint, he’s loved St. Patrick since watching the movie, Patrick – Brave Shepherd of the Emerald Isle, when he was younger. So we love celebrating his feast day around here.

Noah dressed up as St. Patrick on All Saints’ Day in 2013

I have to tell you that one of my pet peeves is when people refer to the day as St. Patty’s Day. Patty is a female name and Patrick was male! This drives me crazy. So let us remember his name is Patrick and it’s all not about parades and being in a drunken stupor, but that he lived his life (after being kidnapped and taken away from his family) to follow God’s will and teach others about Christ.

St. Patrick, pray for us!

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Last week we started doing the Stations of the Cross with the boys. They really loved it. I saw these DIY Stations on Pinterest. I didn’t have the kit, but we had plenty of popsicle sticks and I just printed images from Google. I thought for sure the boys would love crafting them, but not so much. So over the course of a few days, I made them (with a little of Noah’s help) and had them ready for Stations last Friday. I just hung them in the hallway leading to the playroom with painter’s tape. The boys loved going through each Station, standing guard with their swords. I held the candle under each one as Michael read from the Stations of the Cross for Children. The boys wanted me to wear my veil, so I obliged. I think it’s sweet that they love when I wear it. This will be a great Lenten tradition for all of us.

Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross

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We’ve had some awesome spring weather here this week and the boys have been outside for most of it! Lots of bike riding, walks and of course digging in dirt. I do love Spring, but this week it’s been really bugging me! The boys have been constantly in and out, shoes covered in dirt…I know get used to it, they’re boys. They’ve just been bouncing off the walls and that’s with them being outside most of the day…spring fever I guess, but I’m starting to dislike Spring if this what I have to look forward to.

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No time for a 7th Quick Take…Noah is calling me for a game of War!

Isaac is 8 Months

Isaac you’re 8 months old today and I don’t know how it’s possible but you’re getting cuter and sweeter each day. You do so well entertaining yourself and just watching your older brothers, especially when they’re playing a game of hockey. You have the biggest, happiest smile ever! And you love sticking out your cute, little tongue.

isaac_8mths_collage2

You’re a big crawler now. So you like being on the move and getting yourself stuck under tables and getting into whatever your big brothers are doing. We really need to get the baby gate installed. I really wish there was a company that installed these. They’re so complicated, it makes my head hurt thinking about it. It honestly may not be worth the effort. I’m debating it…seriously!

You were doing so much better with your sleep, but you’ve seemed to relapse these past few weeks. Maybe it’s all part of a growth spurt, as you’ve been nursing a lot too, which has made me hungry ALL. THE. TIME! It wouldn’t be Lent without some crosses to keep it real and I’ll happily take the one of exhaustion.

We’ve been reading The Little House on the Prairie, and part of the story talked about Laura and Mary hoping to see an Indian baby papoose…you’re now affectionately called our cute little papoose :)

isaac_8mths_collage1

Milestones:

  • Crawling
  • 2 bottom teeth are in
  • Loving table foods – graham crackers, strawberries and hamburger are your favorites
  • Signing “more” with much enthusiasm
  • So close to waving

Likes:

  • Any and all paper
  • Balls
  • Being upside down. When I hold you, you like to lean backwards viewing the world upside down.
  • Curious George
  • Playing with your brothers

Dislikes:

  • The vaccuum
  • Being left alone; you have to be able to see someone.
  • Immediate sad face when you hear me yelling at your brothers. This happens rarely, as you can imagine in our household. And by rarely I mean about every 15 minutes :)
Happy 8 months, Isaac!

Happy 8 months, Isaac!

Playroom Update

Hard to believe that this summer will mark 2 years in our house. I still feel like we’re settling in and making it our own and I try not to think about the ginormous list of things I’d like to do around here; but at least I accomplished my goal of repainting and organizing the basement playroom…finally!

playroom_before

It literally took me the ENTIRE month of February! I completely underestimated how long it would it take me; I didn’t realize how large the space was until I started painting. There were many days that went by and it just sat like this (and it drove me crazy having it sit untouched, unfinished and looking like a mess) due to the boys being sick and just busyness of life and exhaustion:

playroom_progress

But after small sessions of progress (and telling myself that any progress was progress), and an impromptu purge session led by Michael in the middle of my project, it’s finally finished and it looks so much better.

Much needed purging of toys!!!

Scary how much can accumulate among 4 boys. Much needed purging of toys!!! Less is more!

The color is light and refreshing. The room feels lighter and larger. And it’s nice to not have all the million patched holes and scuff marks to look at. And best of all it’s organized!

playroom_after

Before we had the tall shelves; they just weren’t working as I originally intended. We bought those shelves with the intention of homeschooling there, so I wanted taller shelves to store items I didn’t want the boys getting into. Since we now homeschool upstairs, the shelves weren’t working out. The boys couldn’t get to the higher shelves and the shelves weren’t deep enough to hold the bins. And baby brothers were getting stuck under them :(

isaac_under_shelf

I really wanted to make a trip to Ikea and invest in some Trofast storage units, but I knew it was best to work with what we had, in the end saving time and money.

Luckily Michael’s office had a set of shelves, so we just switched them out. They’re deeper and lower and toys (and Isaac) don’t get stuck under them. The taller shelves work much better in Michael’s office to hold his ever-growing book collection.

And no, the playroom never looks that clean and put together. Here’s a more realistic picture, it’s actually usually worse:

playroom_dayinthelife

Now on to the next project…I’m already wanting to paint another room…just need to decide which one!

 

The Devil Hates the Latin Mass

Michael and I have had the opportunity to attend a couple Latin Masses at St. Patrick’s Oratory as part of our Lenten experience. My very first Latin Mass was in high school at my grandpa’s funeral. In recent weeks, Michael has been reading much about the Latin Mass, drawing my interest in it as well, and as I reflect on all of it, I find it interesting that my grandfather was the first to introduce me to the Latin Mass albeit at his funeral. It’s the last thing he left with me. Of course at the time I had no idea what I was experiencing. I had no appreciation for the faith that had been given me. I clearly remember my grandpa trying to engage me in my Catholic faith in junior high and high school and I just didn’t get it. He’d ask me questions and most of the time my answer was, “I don’t know.” Then he’d reply, “What are they teaching you in that Catholic school?!?” Exactly! Not much Catechism was happening in the Catholic schools then, unfortunately. My first Bible was given to me on Christmas by my grandfather in junior high. Of course I didn’t really appreciate that then either, but I do love it now.

All these things have come to light for me recently. He gave me these little seeds of my faith and I see now that he was planting seeds; maybe at the time he didn’t even realize it. I never appreciated it and I’m sure at the time I was more annoyed about it than grateful. And reflecting on all of these things, I can see the fruits of his labor. These last few weeks, he’s been on my mind a lot lately and I’m not even sure why, yet as I was getting closer to attend the Latin Mass I couldn’t help to think he wanted me there. All of these years, I’m sure he’s been in Purgatory or Heaven praying for me. And here I am today living my Catholic faith to the best of my ability. Taking all teachings of the Faith to the fullest, not being the cafeteria Catholic that I once was before marriage. I understand that I’m planting seeds in my own children and who knows who else around me. I know I may never get to see the fruits of that labor, but there’s a peace knowing that seeds are planted and if my children turn away from the faith that hopefully they will come back to it with great love and zeal.

I honestly don’t remember much from my Grandpa’s funeral Mass, except the Latin and that the women wore veils and I just didn’t understand, nor did I appreciate the beauty around me. So to attend the Latin Masses these last couple of weeks has been profound in many ways. The church is beautiful – the high altar, the communion rail, the large statues of Mary, St. Joseph, St.Thérèse, the vestments, the bell tower ringing (oh how I love the ringing of church bells). I really love it all. There’s so much beauty, so much meaning behind everything.

St. Patrick's Oratory

St. Patrick’s Oratory

We had the opportunity to attend confession there. Confession always, always is a nerve-racking event for me. Even though I was nervous, I loved seeing the traditional confessional and having complete anonymity. There was a peace that came with that. I wish all the Catholic churches had these. I think it lessens the nerves, as you’re not worried about how each confessional room is set up and whether someone is already in there. This one shows a light above the door so you know it’s in use.

Confession at St. Patrick's Oratory

Confession at St. Patrick’s Oratory

Of course, I went in there and began with, “Bless me Father for I have sinned”, and the priest immediately said, “You’re too loud.” Oops…I’m used to being in a confessional room so you don’t really whisper in those. The priest was very kind and gave me great guidance and advice. I was in much need of some spiritual direction so it was refreshing to not only have my sins forgiven but given great, holy advice to take with me. I know now that the devil did not want me there. There was the odd looks from my parents thinking we were a little crazy to go to a Latin Mass. We were running late, then there was traffic; we thought for sure we wouldn’t get to confession, which I was okay with, like I said it really makes me nervous, so if I wasn’t able to make it due to things beyond my control so be it. But the Lord prevailed; we arrived about 15 minutes before Mass and I was next in line. God wanted me there and it was so good for my soul.

We were able to attend the Latin Mass again yesterday evening. It was even more beautiful than last week. This time they had the organ playing, more candles were lit, they had three altar servers instead of two and for it being my second Latin Mass I was already able to follow along a little in the missal.

It wasn’t easy getting there tonight either – the devil was out in full force. He did not want us there. I was in full sloth mode this afternoon. I didn’t feel like going anywhere, let alone driving 20 minutes to Mass. I was tired and not feeling so great. It was much easier to stay home. But we said we were going during Lent, so we got ready. We almost didn’t get out the door in time…then there was traffic again, we hit every red light. We finally arrived in the parking lot and noticed it was going to be a light crowd. Michael wanted to go to confession and I told him you should have plenty of time. He was next in line, but when it was his turn the priest came out to start Mass…opportunity missed. We took in the Mass and was pleasantly surprised to see them start Adoration immediately after. That was beautiful too – seeing the priest in his cope and the incense during the Benediction.

Benediction at St. Patrick's Oratory

Benediction at St. Patrick’s Oratory

Two of the altar servers stayed on each side, as if standing guard. The priest then proceeded back to the confessional…so Michael got his confession in. I see now how the devil didn’t want us to experience any of this holiness. And I’m so grateful that we pushed through and went, as I enjoyed every moment of it.

I really can’t even explain the beauty of the Latin Mass. It’s so reverent, humbling and peaceful. I can wear my veil. I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy the experience as much I have. I thought for sure I’d just feel uncomfortable, not understanding Latin, not knowing when to kneel or stand as it is different from the New Order Mass. I often wonder what the reasoning was for Vatican II. I think so much got lost, even if it was unintentional.

I highly encourage anyone to attend a Latin Mass – it’s rich in beauty and tradition. You’ll probably be surprised by how captivating it really is, how engaging it is even if you don’t know any Latin. Our plan is to go as family on the first Fridays of the month. The boys will love seeing the high altar and experiencing Benediction.

latin_mass_consecration

Here are some things I noticed (besides the Latin and the priest facing the altar, of course):

  • The majority of women wear a veil. I love this tradition. Contrary to what many believe, Vatican II never did away with this tradition, but it did somehow get lost unfortunately.
  • The communion rail. I LOVE IT! I was really nervous about this at first. I’m a take Communion-in-the-hand person, so the idea of receiving it on the tongue was stressing me out. What if I don’t open my mouth wide enough? What if it falls (that’s what the paten is for)?  How embarrassing! I’m going to look like an idiot with my mouth all open trying to take the Eucharist. All of these things humble you…I get it…now. It’s not about me, it’s about receiving our Lord – body, blood, soul and divinity, from the priest himself. Michael suggested I ask my Guardian Angel to help me receive the Eucharist gracefully. I did and it went fine! Also kneeling at the communion rail gives you time before and after to really reflect on the Eucharist. 
  • There’s no sign of peace…as in shaking hands with your neighbors. I don’t miss this. It actually kind of stresses me out especially during the cold and flu season. You go to Mass and the majority of people are hacking and blowing their noses and then they want you to give them the sign of peace…umm no thank you. So then I feel rude, but really I can’t afford to be sick with 4 littles around and I try really hard to keep them from getting sick. So yes it’s nice not to have to stress about that.
  • At Low Mass there’s no homily.
  • The High Altar. It’s beautiful! Why the Churches don’t have them anymore is beyond me!
  • Kneeling. You kneel a lot at the Latin Mass, but I think it’s more reverent and keeps me more engaged.
  • The altar servers never cross the high altar without genuflecting and always keep their hands in prayer formation.
  • The Blood of Christ is not offered to the parishioners.

Large Family Traveling

large_family_vacation

So we’re thinking about a vacation and we might be completely insane for even attempting it. Four kiddos 6 and under…just the logistics gets my heart racing. In 12 short years our oldest will be off to college (hopefully somewhere close) and starting his adult life; his brothers will be following closely right after. We haven’t taken a vacation in 6 years!!! Well we technically took a small one last year to Lake of the Ozarks, but it wasn’t necessarily a destination vacation. It was just to try things out and it was only a couple hours drive from home. It wasn’t perfect and Michael ended up having a seizure and spending a week in the hospital afterwards (that’s a blog post in itself), but the boys…they LOVED it. After that adventure, we swore off vacationing, but recently we started thinking about it. Even though it is stressful at times with the planning and logistics, we know the memories will be worth it and as I mentioned the boys are growing up way too fast. There are so many places we know the boys would enjoy going to like Jamestown Settlement. And these would be educational, fun and memorable experiences.

So we are hoping to try a vacation with a small plane ride in early summer. We are praying everyone will be healthy and seizure free this time around! And hopefully after we tackle this we’ll be more comfortable with future vacations to experience with the boys. We are still looking for tips on large family traveling…just the logistics overwhelm me. So if you have tips you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them!

  • Any tips for the airport and plane ride? I don’t plan on packing a lot of toys as I feel that’s just one more thing I’ll have to keep track of. Plus I think the newness of experiencing the airport and being on a plane will be distracting. So probably just an activity book or something. Oh and gum for the ear popping??? At least so I’ve heard. We might be “that” family on the plane with four screaming kiddos :/
  • Our biggest concern are carseats. The idea of lugging 4 carseats to the airport is not the most appealing especially since all the boys are still in full-size ones, not little boosters. I’ve heard horror stories of the carseats to rent at the car rental places (either they don’t any or they’re just disgustingly dirty). I found a couple companies that rent baby equipment and will meet you at the car rental place. Supposedly all the items are cleaned and sanitized. They won’t install them for you due to liability, but this seems to be the best option. We’re not looking forward to having to install 4 carseats because they truly are a pain, but they’re a necessity. This is really one of my biggest stress factors.
  • Driving vs Flying. I see pros and cons to each. Flying is costly, plus there’s the carseat and stroller issue, but you get to your destination faster allowing you more time there. Driving gives you the flexibility to have all the carseats and baby gear in place, but then there’s the hours of driving with 4 young kiddos. I’d love to hear large families’ experiences with both.
  • Lodging. We’re also learning that in most cases when we travel, we’ll have to stay in a more condo-like setting. Most hotels only allow 4 guests per room. But we’d also need to do be able to do laundry and having a kitchen will allow us to have breakfast and other meals in instead of going out 3 times a day for 6 people which would add up fast.
  • Travel Times. When are the best times to travel? Ideally we would like to travel during the non-summer months.

I’m sure I missed plenty of other things, but these are items I’m already fretting about. So any and all tips and tricks and information is welcomed! Please share!