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I got the idea for this extremely fun tradition from a book called Friday Night Bites: Kick Off the Weekend with Recipes and Crafts for the Whole Family, by Karen Berman. I can’t say I’m excited by the recipes in this book (I may end up using one or two), but I love the format and the ideas! I read through it and decided to modify it to suit my family and what I wanted to get out of this new tradition, namely family time that creates memories for the kids.

For our first Family Friday, I chose the Under the Sea theme because I wanted to see how everything worked out with a relatively simple concept to plan. Besides, I had pretty much everything I might need on hand – perfect in case of potential hiccups in the idea.

I used an old, blue bed sheet for our tablecloth. On the table, I placed a vase with pretty, blue, wavelike swirls and gave one of our betta fish a new home inside. On either side of that, I put the two dolphin snow globes that Kaitie & Gracie’s Nanny & Granddaddy gave them. Scattered on the table were the seashells that I found on my scuba adventures (pre-kid years). On the walls, I hung some lithographs from when I’d pre-purchased “Finding Nemo” at the Disney Store years ago. I even hung balloon “bubbles” from the chandelier!

We were even lucky enough to have my parents over for dinner! Here’s how the day went down…

Menu:

Breakfast ~ seaweed omelets with apple boatsuts turtle breakfast

uts breakfastTo make the seaweed omelets, saute about 2 cups (or more, depending on how many people will be eating) of chopped baby spinach in butter, then add 1 1/2 beaten eggs per person. Cook gently on medium low heat until the eggs are almost done, then add 1 slice of muenster cheese per person.

The apple boats are just slices made with and apple corer/slicer. I serve the kids breakfast most days with Carnation Instant Breakfast (either chocolate or vanilla) mixed with our local raw milk.

Lunch ~ peanut butter and jellyfish puzzle sandwiches with goldfish crackers

Simple, but super fun! I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, then pressed a fish shaped cookie cutter into the middle of each sandwich. Then, I cut through the middle of all four sides to make it look like puzzle pieces.

Goldfish crackers (a mix of pretzel and original flavors – two of the only ones that don’t have artificial colors or MSG!) are a natural match!

Dinner ~ Publix Apron Meals Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce and Angel Hair Fresca with puff pastry sea stars

uts pbandj fishI love this tilapia recipe! It is so easy to make, and the ingredients are delicious. Here are my substitutions… I used Emeril’s Fish Rub instead of the seasoned salt called for in the recipe, substituted medium sized pasta shells for the angel hair, and used olive oil in place of the butter this time because Caroline’s tiny tummy is very anti-dairy.

The puff pastry sea stars idea came from the Friday Night Bites book. I used a star shaped cookie cutter to make the star shapes, re-rolling the dough until it was used up. Then, I brushed the tops of the stars with olive oil and sprinkled them with sea salt. The stars baked in a 350° oven until they were golden brown and puffy good!

Dessert ~ shipwrecked fruit salad in canteloupe boats

So easy! I washed the outside of the canteloupe and cut it into eight crescent shaped slices. I used the small side ofa melon baller to scoop out balls from the middles of the slices, creating “boats”. I mixed the melon balls with diced pineapple and mandarin oranges. Each boat went into a bowl, surrounded by the mixed fruit. In each boat, I placed a scoop of strawberry sorbet, then sprinkled the tops of each with shredded coconut.uts dinner 2

Craft ~

I had originally planned a craft to be done after dinner, but we completely ran out of time after dinner. I had a hunch things would not go exactly as planned! The craft was going to be an octopus made from cut-outs of their traced hands on construction paper, pasted on a blue background and decorated. I’m sure I’ll be able to re-use that idea later!

In the future, I hope to be able to incorporate some learning activities into the theme, such as learning about sea animals on National Geographic Kids online. All in all, though, I think it was a great start!

Next up…Pirates!!! Arrrrrrrr!!!!!

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Chances are, the majority of the first readers to stop by here will be friends and family. But, since the random passer-by (Hi, Random Passer-By!) is possible, I’ll tell you all about our family and what you should expect to see here.

Let’s start with li’l ole me… Kimi's Wedding PhotoYes, it’s my wedding picture. Yes, I’m totally made up and looking unusually spiffy. Don’t worry, the real me will turn up soon enough. But I digress…

I was born in Florida and have lived here my whole life. I love it! Well, with the exception of a few unreasonably hot days in the summer and some equally unreasonably cold days in the winter – it’s fantastic. No matter where you go, there are all kinds of adventures accessible within a tankful’s range.

I feel like I’ve lived a pretty interesting life. My lifelong interests include horseback riding, martial arts, swimming, reading, writing, music, and theater. I’ve held a good variety jobs, including bakery employee, veterinary clinic receptionist, horseback riding instructor, swimming pool leak locator, scuba instructor, nanny, and Mom. I like that last one best.

Most of what you’ll read on this blog have to do with that last (and best) job. It has quite a job description! Childcare professional, educator, housekeeper, personal assistant, chef, baker, baby milk maker (moo), bedtime tucker-inner, lullaby singer, referee, defender of the peace, and all-around good snuggler (just to name a few key resume points).

I love my job, and it definitely keeps me busy. Like right now, for example, I have a peaceful, cuddly, warm baby fast asleep in my lap…but if I move her…well, not so peaceful anymore. Moments like this give me plenty of time online, but not so much time for the rest of my job. But seriously now, who could pass up that much sweetness and sugar all in one tiny little package? Which brings me to my wonderful husband…

DSC_0008 This is Adam with our sweet little bundle of honeysuckle goodness (you’ll meet her later). Did I completely cheat by jumping right past his fancy wedding picture into the deep end of randomness? Yep. But the blog is called that for a reason, after all. Anyway, Adam is completely, totally, and in all ways amazing. Not only is he one of the funniest people I’ve ever known (closely rivalled by my daughter Gracie, another one you’ll meet later), but he is the kind of husband and father every family needs. He’s smart, hard-working, motivated, multi-talented, loving, and would do absolutely anything for us. Does it get any better than that? I think not. He is a printed circuit board designer by day and an aspiring movie maker with an affection for horror movie makeup by night. He also once had a gig as a drummer in a punk band. It doesn’t get much more random than that…starting to understand the theme? Let’s move on…

Gracie This is Peyton Grace. AKA “Gracie”. Doesn’t she look sweet and pretty, playing in the pool dappled with sunlight? Yep, she’ll cute the “awww!”s right out of anyone, but don’t be fooled! Note the impish grin? Yes, this darling beauty is the quiet stinker of the house and hands-down the funniest kid I’ve ever met. Invariably, Gracie will come up with some perfect little gem of 5-year-old silliness that puts me in stitches. Yes, they will all end up posted here (check out the Twitter feed up there on the right). Her favorite things include horses, swimming, princesses, and any cute animal.

Here’s an interesting fact about my wonderful Princess Grace: she was born with a thumb and two fused fingers on her right hand (complete simple syndactyly). When she was six months old, she had surgery to separate them at Arnold Palmer Hospital, performed by Dr. Birnbaum of Nemours. The results were fantastic, and Gracie has never let it slow her down. She is truly amazing and thinks it’s really cool that she can reach in places the rest of us can’t! If you ask her, she’ll tell you all about how the doctor gave her a heart-shaped scar on her fingers so she’ll always remember Mommy loves her.

Next is my Kaitlynn Beth. AKA “Kaitie”. Gracie’s twin and our tomboy in a tiara. DSC_0170Always laughing, always playful, she can really put a smile on our faces. She’s smart as a whip, but often has her head in the clouds, which can make her challenging sometimes. A natural athlete ( the kid has one hell of a six pack for a five-year-old), she has had her share of bumps and bruises while giving me mommy-heart-attacks. She loves to swim, and is learning how to snorkel. She’s an avid reader and can do so at about second grade level. Some of her favorite things are animals, books, art, and princesses.

DSC_0104My stepson Derrick Orion rounds out the list of bigs (that’s short for “big kids” around here). Cute as a button, our seven-year-old bean pole is as tall as most nine-year-olds. He’s one of those kids that makes you wish the energy he has came in a bottle. Consequently, one of his favorite things to do is run. Fast. His non-stop “play mode” does get him into trouble sometimes, doing homework with him is often like pulling teeth, but this sweet little blue-green-eyed boy doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. Some of his favorite interests include dinosaurs, sharks, reading, TV, and video games (which, to his dismay, are not free-flowing around here).

Last, but certainly not least, our “little”. Sweet baby Caroline Olivia. Born July 30th, she is the newest addition to our random clan. We have no fear that she will grow into her destiny of randomness. She is a mellow, happy baby and is just starting to show us her big smile! She looks so much like her Daddy that we call her his little clone, but when we look at pictures of me at her age , we look very much alike, too! We are all looking forward to watching her grow. Some of her interests include staring at the toys in her bed, Mama’s milk, Daddy’s lovin’, filling her diapers, spitting up, and generally being ridiculously cute.Sweet Caroline

We are really enjoying life as a blended family. It definitely has its challenges, but it’s all so rewarding! The bigs have such a great relationship, and I sincerely hope it carries on into their adulthood.

And finally, I think I should mention the whole purpose of me writing in the first place. I want to record our activities and experiences to share with other parents. I have found that some of the greatest resources are online articles posted by parents who are experiencing similar joys and issues as we are. So, without further ado, the topics that will make it to the blog are including but not limited to…

  • blended families and step-parenting
  • family trips and activities, including reviews
  • natural living choices, including: chemical-free food and home environment, cloth diapering, breastfeeding, delayed/selective/non-vaccination, organics, etc.
  • adventures in public education and supplementing at home
  • our Family Friday tradition, including: themed crafts, meals, and other fun
  • parenting and family related book and magazine reviews
  • movie, TV show, video game, and other entertainment reviews in relation to family
  • recipes and food successes (or failures) with our picky eaters
  • baby and big kid milestones and cuteness (obligatory mom stuff)
  • weekly meal planning
  • and, of course, the gems of randomness that spout forth from the mouths of our babes (and my husband)!

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