About Me

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I am a very lucky woman with a husband and son who are smart, witty and entertaining. Our son, B, attended public school for two years, and then we embarked on a new adventure in the Fall of 2010 - homeschooling. We don't have all the answers, but we know B and this has been the best thing for him. I blog to preserve our stories and our memories, share recipes, vent and ramble on about our crazy, yet blessed, life. Would you care to follow along?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Facebook Continues to Stack the Deck Against Me!

I have tried to soldier on with my blog's Facebook Page, but since Facebook went public, they have not been so friendly to all of its users.  Only a third of my Facebook followers are able to see any of my Facebook posts.  Facebook wants me to pay money for each post to my page in order to show those posts on my own followers' news feed!  So, I now need to follow the lead of what other, smarter, bloggers have done.  I am opening up my personal Facebook page to my followers.  So, if you'd like to see everything I post to my TwitterInstagram and Facebook Page, send me a friend's request to my personal, Jessica Clark, Facebook page.  I will gladly and gratefully accept your friend request because you honor and humble me with your interest and following.

Thank you so much for reading my thoughts and plans and our homeschooling journey.  I love and appreciate you all!

Monday, December 17, 2012

"I'm tired of looking at those peppers!"

That's what my brother told me last week when we were on the phone.  He didn't really yell at me; there is rarely any elevation in his voice.  But I took creative license b/c the title of this blog post would not be as effective nor eye catching if it had a period instead of an exclamation point.  ;o)  So, I'm writing a new blog post just for him, so he does not have to look at the Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers at the top when he visits my blog.

We bought a twin sized blowup mattress 6 years ago because we were tired of sleeping on Ben's floor when he was sick.  We also bring it out when someone sleeps over.  My brother is our most frequent sleepover guest.  :o)  We blew up the mattress and put it on bedroom floor Friday night because, after what happened in Connecticut, the hubs and I wanted us all together.  B and the hubs slept in our queen size bed and I slept on the blowup.  I love that mattress; it's so comfy!  Just like a select comfort bed, I adjust the air to the squishy level I like, I lay down and stay in that position all night long.

B has never slept on the blowup mattress so we let him sleep on it Saturday night.  And the hubs let him sleep on it last night, as well.  I woke up around 2am this morning because B was moaning.  I went over to wake him, thinking he was having a nightmare.  He wasn't.  He was already awake and moaning because he felt like he was going to throw up.  He also said that he felt that way the night before but never said anything to us.  We got him up to put him in our bed and he started to gag.  I got the trash can and he gagged again, but nothing came up.  He laid down in our bed and the hubs and I started going through everything B ate to find a common denominator that would make him sick 2 days in a row.  After a minute, B said he felt much better and a few minutes after that he felt all better and fell back to sleep in our bed.  Then the hubs figured out what it was: B had gotten motion sickness from sleeping on the blowup mattress!  He gets motion sick so easily.  SMH

B said 2 things yesterday that I want to share with y'all:
  1. God makes the weekend, but our family makes it fun!
  2. If I ever propose marriage during Christmas time I would get down on one knee, hold out the ring and say, "(Insert name here), with your love so bright, won't you guide my life tonight?"

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

Back in August, I told you about a recipe from Peace Love and Low Carb that has become one of our favorites, Pan-Seared Chicken with Balsamic Cream Sauce, Mushrooms and Onions.  It's a mouthful to say, but worth it!  Tonight, I made another one of PL&LC's recipes, Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers.  These are so delicious!  I was quite surprised that the peppers were still brightly colored (more so than the picture captured) and that they were still crunchy; I thought they'd be pretty soggy.  So flavorful, so pretty and a big hit in our house.  I highly recommend then!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Upcycled, Children's Christmas Crafts

Yesterday was supposed to be the November meeting of our homeschool group's Craft Club.  Unfortunately I had to cancel the meeting because B was sick.  But that did not stop us from doing the crafts, ourselves, at home.  We had 2 crafts to do, making gift boxes and pencil cases out of cereal boxes and making an Advent calendar.  Both crafts took a lot of time, but we had nothing but, so we put on the Christmas carols, spread everything out on the family room floor and had a great afternoon together.  B was really upset that I canceled Craft Club.  He didn't think everyone needed to be disappointed just because he couldn't go.  He asked me to leave him home and go do the crafts with the other children without him.  Such a big heart on that boy!

This is the link to the gift boxes we made.  This is the template for the pencil case we made.

I originally planned to make this Countdown to Christmas Calendar with the Craft Club.  But since B was sick, I hadn't been able to get to the craft store to get the necessary supplies.  Then I found this Advent "Calendar" idea using toilet paper rolls and I knew this is what we should make.  October's Craft Club meeting included making these spooky eyes in the bushes and I saved waaaay more toilet paper rolls that I needed to!  So, we made the toilet paper roll Advent calendar yesterday and used up 24 toilet paper rolls.  I still have tons of TP and paper towel rolls left, so I need to keep searching for craft ideas for them...  Inside the TP rolls, I placed a piece of leftover Halloween candy and one of these 24 printable Christmas jokes.  We went through magazines and cut out numbers for the days, 1 - 24, and B still plans do to more decorating on each roll.  He has placed the rolls in our Christmas tree.

I plan to add some other activities to these toilet paper rolls after reading Creekside Learning's great Advent Calendar activity ideas.  Julie at Creekside Learning has inspired me and I will include the following activities: my dad likes to take B to see Santa every year; my mom has B over to bake Christmas cookies (I do make food gifts for people at Christmas, but not cookies), we're going to see a holiday performance at a local high school; I found a gift card worth 2 movie tickets so I'll take B to see Rise of the Guardians one weekday; etc.  As the wise Julie at Creekside Learning does, I'll put those special activities in each day as the month rolls along, just a few days ahead of time, to ensure it fits in with our schedule.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Quick, Easy Chocolate Croissants with 2 Ingredients You Probably Already Have On Hand

Yesterday, I was craving chocolate, so I made some chocolate croissants.  Way easier than making cookies or brownies when you have a can of crescent rolls in the house, leftover from Thanksgiving dinner (I gave myself permission to not make butter rolls from scratch this year and I'm glad I did!).  We usually make chocolate crescents just like the Pillsbury can directs you to make their rolls, only we add some chips to the triangles before rolling them up.  This time, I wanted them to look more like the filled croissants at bakeries.  So fast, easy and delicious!  Here's what you do:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Decking The Halls

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we're Decking our Halls for Christmas.  We did half of our Christmas cards on Saturday (although we won't be mailing them out for another week or two, it's nice to get them done and ready), with the help of family we put the tree and outside lights up yesterday and this morning, B and I have really enjoyed decorating the refrigerator!  I've never decorated the fridge before, but I found this pin on Pinterest earlier in the year and thought it was a great idea.  Unfortunately, I cannot give credit to the original pinner of the idea because the link behind the pin has been removed.  But whoever you are, we are grateful for the inspiration!

We got out the scissors, tape and construction paper, put on the Christmas carols and went to town.  B did everything except the stick arms; I did those.  The hardest part was actually clearing off the refrigerator!  ;o)

Enjoy the rest of your Monday, everyone!  We've definitely set the tone for a festive day here by starting our day off with Frosty the Fridge!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

If an apology begins with, "I'm sorry if...", it's NOT an apology.

I'm so tired of hearing this fake apology from individuals and corporations on the news.  "We apologize if we offended anyone..."  The "if" says you don't believe there is any insult nor wrongdoing on your part so you don't own it.  The "if" puts ownership on the offended.  What you are really saying is, "It's too bad that you are so sensitive to take offense at something I did.  I feel sorry for you and sorry for me that our PR department/my manager is making me apologize to you."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jessica Seinfeld's Chocolate Chip Cookies

B woke up yesterday morning and decided he wanted to make chocolate chip cookies.  The hubs and I were still asleep, BTW.  He started looking through my cookbooks to find a recipe. The 4th book he went through was Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious.  She had a recipe for chocolate chip cookies in there and B looked over the ingredients list to see if we had everything.  He found all the ingredients in the pantry except for one - chick peas.  That's right, chick peas.  He had no idea what chick peas were, but he absolutely loved her Sloppy Joes so he was willing to give it a try.

Luckily, at this point, he remembered he is not supposed to use the oven!  He figured he'd mix up the batter and get it all ready for us when we woke up.  How thoughtful of him!  ;o)  But he still didn't know what chick peas were.  So he woke up the hubs and asked if he could get him some chick peas, please.  Imagine the hubs' surprise and confusion, being woken up with that question.  It still doesn't top me being woken up by B at the age of 5 saying, "Mama, my balls are gone."

After going for a lovely late afternoon walk, we came back to the house and B made the cookies.  The same friend who recommended Jessica Seinfeld's Sloppy Joes to us also told me her husband loves these chocolate chip cookies with chick peas.  She is 2 for 2 with her recommendations; these cookies are good!  You don't taste the chick peas at all.  I thought maybe they'd melted during baking, but they didn't; you cans till see them in the cookies.  But they are just soft like the dough and blend in.  No taste difference at all.  I don't know what made Mrs. Seinfeld think to add chick peas, but it works!

Once the chick peas and chocolate chips went in, we had to cover the mixer with a towel to prevent flying chick peas!

Look at that scooping concentration!
YUM!  Can you spot the chick peas?  Only if you know they are there and look for them. Going to try them on my parents this afternoon and not tell them about the chick peas.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Chicken Noodle Soup Dump Recipe For Kathy

  • Dice up half an onion, 2 carrots, a couple of garlic cloves, and grate at least 1 tsp of fresh ginger. If I have shallots on hand, I'll dice up one of those, too.
  •  Salt and pepper 1/2 of a chicken breast and cook it in a pan with the fat of your choice.  Set aside on a cutting board.
  • Add a little more fat to pan you cooked chicken breast in and then add your onion, carrot, garlic ginger and shallot.  Saute until onions are translucent.  If I have leftover cooked veggies from dinners in the fridge, I add them now and then saute for another minute or two.
  • If you have any spices or herbs you'd like to add for extra flavor, this is the time to do it!  Drop them in with your sauteed veggies and stir to coat and heat them up, releasing their flavors.  I find I get more flavor out of herbs and spices when I add them before liquids then I get when adding them at the end.  Salt and pepper, however, should be added at the end.
  • Add 3 - 4 cups of Kitchen Basics Unsalted Chicken Cooking Stock and bring up to a boil.
  • Once stock and veggies are boiling, add a handful or 2, at the most, of your choice of pasta, turn the flame down so that stock just simmers and cook until the pasta is al dente.  I pick a small pasta, like ditalini, alphabets, mini shells, mini farfalle, orecchiette, or elbows if that's the smallest I have.  You can even break up spaghetti into small pieces.  Add a pasta too big or too much pasta and it will absorb all or most of your stock.
  • While pasta cooks, dice up your chicken breast.
  • When pasta is al dente, turn off the heat, add in your diced chicken breast to warm it back up and taste your broth.  Do you want to add salt and or pepper?  I add both, to my taste.
Depending on how much I serve myself, I get 3 - 4 bowls from this.  If I have a chicken or turkey carcass around, I'll make a pot of stock from that, make a big pot of soup without the pasta, and freeze in quart-size, zip-top bags.  Take out when you are ready to eat, thaw, bring up to boil, toss in your pasta and then simmer until al dente.  Or freeze in gallon-size bags and use when you want to take a family a meal.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Mock Election for Our Homeschool Group and the Hard Lesson B Learned from It

A pretty amazing and smart 6 year old girl in our homeschool group was so interested in the 2012 presidential election, she and her family decided to open a private voting precinct on their front porch so the children could vote!  Isn't that just fabulous?!  The mock election was yesterday and the family even provided an "absentee ballot" option, via Survey Monkey, for those who were unable to vote in person.  Brilliant!

The hubs and I talk about national and world issues regularly and B absorbs it all.  He has formed some pretty strong opinions regarding our country and it's presidents.  He has very strongly believed that his candidate of choice for the 2012 election is the one and only choice for America.  We've actually had to reign him in tell him he cannot exclaim in horror at the sight of bumper stickers and yard signs supporting the other candidate and it is not his duty to try to "enlighten" strangers to the "error" of their choice.  LOL! 

However, when I told B that he was going to participate in a mock election, he actually changed from being one candidate's fan, to a researcher.  He wanted to hear more details of both candidates, their qualifications, their records, their experiences and their promises.  And he came up with one very astute observation: he perceived one candidate to be best for our family and the other candidate best for our country.  Read that sentence again.  My 10 year old figured that out all on his own and was faced with the moral dilemma and burden of which candidate to choose.

I could see that weight on his deflated shoulders as his excitement over this election leaked right out of him.  Oh, how hard it is for a parent to watch your idealistic child smack head-on into reality!  We sat down and talked about it.  I pointed out how intelligent and compassionate he is to not only come to this realization but also heed it!  He is so far ahead of many adults!  It's a tough choice, one we all need to take seriously and weigh and I am so proud of him.

When we went to the polling station yesterday, he actually stood in his voting booth for a long time, wrestling with his decision.  Finally, some more voters arrived and I told him he had to make a choice and move on.  So he did.  After putting his ballot in the box he said he felt nothing but relief.  I'm so proud of my little man and the lesson he learned.  And so grateful to an amazing and smart 6 year old homeschooled girl who made it all possible.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chicken and Butternut Squash Lasagna

When I posted about making Sloppy Joes for the first time last month, I mentioned my Chicken Lasagna and said I would post the recipe later that week.  I never did, so I am posting it now.  But I have another reason for posting it.  A friend of mine commented on my blog's Facebook page that she is not adventurous in the kitchen at all.  She follows recipes to a "T" and does not experiment or try to create with what she has on hand.  She doesn't think she would be good at it and worries her family won't like what she makes.  Well, I want to address her and others out there with some "baby steps" to being more adventurous in the kitchen, and the lasagna I made last month is a great example.  So here we go!

My friend, Julia, who is always sharing great recipes, provided me with the following Chicken Lasagna recipe:

Lasagna noodles
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
8 oz sour cream
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 packet of Good Seasons dry Italian dressing mix
Shredded cheddar cheese

Cook lasagna noodles.  Mix chicken, sour cream, creamed soup and dry dressing mix.  In a 13"x9" pan, put a small amount of sauce on bottom followed by a layer of noodles, a layer of sauce and a layer of shredded cheddar cheese.  Repeat until you have 3 layers.  Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes.

It's very good and is a great dish to give someone for new baby in the house, recovering from injury, etc.  But 4 years ago, I was inspired by Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious to reduce or eliminate the creamed soup, and I was successful.  I substitute pureed vegetables for 1 or both cans of creamed soup. I've used yellow squash, carrots and pumpkin but the most popular, and the one I used most often, is butternut squash.  I tried it with the canned stuff once, out of curiosity, and it was awful!  Roasting and pureeing whatever vegetable you decide to use yourself is best.  Here's what I do.

Friday, November 2, 2012

What kind of profanity is THAT??

When the hubs and I want to find a detailed movie review to see if it's appropriate for any of us, we go to Kids In Motion.  My friend, Robin, recommended it to me and I have never seen such detailed reviews in my life!  So detailed, they can spoil a movie for you.  However, with a sensitive child, we need to know if there is something in there that would not be OK for B.  As I stated in my review of Disney's Wreck-It Ralph, the cybugs were scary to B, 10 yrs old, but did not bother the 8 yr old who went with us.  I've even used the site for myself.  I have not read The Hunger Games books, but when I heard the plot, I had no desire to not see the movie.  Since becoming a mother, there are certain things I cannot watch in movies and your children being sent off to kill each other is one of them.  But a friend asked if I wanted to see the movie with her so I thought, "Maybe I could handle it; I'll just check Kids In Mind first."  Good thing I did!  Whoa, way too much for my heart!

We are interested in seeing the new Denzel Washington movie, Flight, and I was curious as to what earned it an "R" rating.  I mean, plenty of language, skin, inappropriate humor and violence appear in "PG" and "PG-13" movies nowadays, so what was so "bad" about Flight that I was not getting from the trailer?  I looked it up on Kids In Motion and got all the details.  OK, I get it now.  However, one thing stumped me.  Under the profanity category, this was listed: "...15 scatological terms..."  Huh?!  I asked the hubs, who is much more worldly than me, what it meant and he had no idea.  So I went to my 2nd most asked source - Dictionary.com.  The definition of scatology is "...the study of, or preoccupation with, excrement..."  Sooooo, you mean "shit".  The word "shit" is said 15 times in this movie.

The hubs and I have now learned a new word and have made a commitment to use it instead of it's crass synonym.  :o)

My Review of Disney's Wreck-It Ralph

I was asked to preview and review Disney's Wreck-It Ralph in 3D for Super NOVA Mommy. Go check out my review here!  Have a great weekend, everyone, and if you go see Wreck-It Ralph, let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Superman & Lois Lane vs. Iron Man & Pepper Potts

We are big fans of The Avengers' superheroes movies in this house, especially Iron Man.  The hubs and I got into a discussion a week or so ago about The Avengers and The Justice League and which superheroes were in which group.  Superman is in The Justice League and bringing him up got me thinking about Lois Lane and Lois got me thinking of Pepper Potts and then I started comparing the relationship between Superman and Lois Lane to that of Iron Man and Pepper Potts.  Now, I have not read any of the comic books; all I know are the movie depictions of these characters.  And although I have seen the Iron Man movies recently, I saw all the Superman movies as a child.  I did re-watch Superman I last year with B but not II - IV.  And from what I remember, I can't help thinking, "My, my, how far we've come!"

Superman and Clark Kent were two different "people" and Clark purposefully hid his real identity.  Clark deliberately acted like a bumbling, clutzy, shy man with a serious lack of self-confidence.  Tony Stark - genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist - arrogantly wanted everyone to know he is Iron Man.  He is suave, debonaire and has more self-confidence than even Superman could dream of having (because he was raised to be a humble gentleman).

Lois Lane could not see the obvious right in front of her face - Clark Kent was Superman.  She didn't want to.  She couldn't even fathom it so she didn't open up to it.  Not a very good reporter, if you ask me.  She was gutsy, took risks for a story and even went after stories that women were not supposed to care about or break.  But Superman always had to come and rescue her.  Pepper Potts knew what was in front of her from the beginning; she understood and accepted a long time ago and worked around Tony's.....eccentric personality.  Just like a good teacher, Pepper sized up the strengths and weaknesses of Tony and worked with each to get the job done efficiently and well.

Pepper earned the title of CEO of Stark Industries.  I don't know if Lois even aspired to be editor of The Daily Planet but I do know she wouldn't have gotten it b/c she was a woman.  Superman saved Lois over and over.  Ironman came to Pepper's rescue but she also assisted him and saved plenty of people herself.

Lois was in heat with Superman's good looks and was impressed that he could fly.  She was looking for someone to sweep her off her feet.  Tony had to pursue and win Pepper.  She enjoys Tony in her personal life but she does not need him.

It just amazes me the difference 30 years can make in the definition of an "independent woman".  How far we still had to go in the last 20 years of the 20th century.  SMH  And the sad part is, that although I celebrate where Pepper Potts is in the 21st century, we still aren't where we can and deserve to be.

Anywho....Pepper Potts is my superhero.  For now.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Where in the World?

I picked up a geography game - Where in the World, A World Awareness Game - at a yard sale recently for $1.  I love yard sale finds!  It has 6 different levels, ranging from getting familiar with which region of the world a country belongs to, to relating geographic knowledge to current events.  B and I played it twice last week and had fun.  In fact, he's asked me if we can play it again, but we didn't have time.  I need to schedule in game time for the educational games we have!  The game was originally published in 1986 and there have been a lot of country changes since then!  However, when we came upon an "outdated" issue, such as Germany being divided into two separate countries on the board, it became a learning opportunity.  I spoke to B about why Germany was divided into East and West and how they came to be united.

Here's B rolling back and forth on his stability ball as we play.  We played level 1, finding which of the 6 regions - Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America and Oceania - each country card we were dealt belonged to.  Each card has a picture of the country's flag as well as the following information: capital; population; monetary unit; literacy rate; major languages; major religions; major export; major import; major seacoasts; it's size ranking in that region.  And although details such as population and monetary unit may have significantly changed in the last 26 years, it's still a great way to learn basics (especially for my cost) and I recommend it.

I looked the game up on both Amazon's and Toys R Us' websites to see if they offer the game and how up-to-date it is.  I didn't find date information on Amazon, but the description on Toys R Us referenced the games introduction 16 years ago, so it sound like their copy was last updated in 1996.  But if you find it at a yard sale, give it a try and let me know how you like it!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mr. First Aid

That's one of the roles the hubs has been assigned.  He does all the first aid in this house.  He went to get the oil changed in in my car this morning.  He wasn't even gone 10 minutes before B drops something on his pinky toe.  I send the hubs a text, letting him know we have a possible broken pinky toe for examination when he gets home.  His response?  "You have got to get a Red Cross app on your phone!"  hehehe

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

B Taking on a Bigger Role in the Kitchen

This past weekend, the hubs decided that B should take a bigger role in the kitchen and help us cook dinner every night.  We started last night, Meatless Monday.  We made Creamy Portobello Pasta, my version of Food & Wine's Ziti with Portobello Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese. Once again, I just used what I had on hand and our finished product tasted fabulous but looked gross.  SMH  I don't know how Food & Wine get such a light colored finished product!  Portobellos release their liquid and it's dark, so it colors my pasta.  Oh, well.  Onto B cooking.

I wasn't ready for B to be using a knife, so I sliced up the onions.  But B turned on the heat under the pan and added the butter and oil.  This is him adding the sugar.

 Stirring the onions so they all get nice and caramelized.

The hubs said B should start learning to cut (my heart stopped) so he sliced up the portobellos.  And did a darn good job at it, too!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Our Calming Jars

I have been wanting to make these Mind Jars from Here We Are Together since I found them on Pinterest months ago.  I should not have waited so long.  Oh, well.  We made them today and can start using them and that's what matters today.  Ours mos def do not look as nice as the ones on Here We Are Together (we can't get our glitter to suspend as long as her picture and ours are kinda cloudy), but what matters most is that we use them.

The ingredients are hot water, glitter glue, food coloring and glitter.  We didn't have glitter glue, just regular white glue.  This is probably why ours are cloudy.  Next time I'll only use 1 drop of food coloring instead of 2, so the color is not as dark.

We Are Here Together also provided the printable labels!  They say:

"A mind jar is a meditation tool
to use whenever a child feels stressed,
overwhelmed or upset.
Imagine the glitter as your thoughts.
When you shake the jar,
Imagine your head full of whirling thoughts,
then watch them slowly settle
while you calm down.
For you from"

I used a Sharpie to write that B's jar was from me and my jar was from him.  Yes, I made myself a jar.  I need one, too.  In fact, I think every parent (even every human being) can benefit from something that assist us with calming down.  B is a smaller, male version of me, so I need to be able to calm myself down to deal with him.  Also, by using one, I am setting the example for B.  Monkey see, monkey do works for all of my negative behaviors, so I'm going to use it for the positive ones, as well.  :o)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Homeschool Ambassador. I didn't sign up for this!

B doing his Math lesson in his favorite spot.
We chose to educate our son at home because it was best for him and for our family.  He has a personality and learning style that his elementary school's curriculum was not geared toward.   He was not being as successful as he could have been, he was not as happy as he should have been and neither were his teachers.  Since he has not been diagnosed with anything under the ADA, the school was unwilling to make accommodations for him.  That's fine; we can make accommodations at home.  I don't think anything about anyone else's decision to not homeschool.  It is not a right or wrong, black or white, judgmental issue.  You do what's best for your family; I do what's best for mine.  Period.

Although we thought we were just homeschooling our child and affecting our family, we've involuntarily been elected as homeschool ambassadors.  Every homeschooling family has and I didn't sign up for this!  When we go out in public during school days, we get stared at.  People constantly ask B, "Why aren't you in school?"  That really irritates me.  Address me, please, not my son.  But they don't have the balls to ask me that, that is why they address a child.  I would be so happy if they could just change that question to, "Are you homeschooled?"  There are so many of us in the area, and you obviously ask all of them why they aren't in school, so you should assume most of these kids are homeschooled.  Yes, there is the odd parent who will take a child shopping with them when they are too sick to be in school, but that is rare, people.

Our homeschool group has weekly "recess" at a park.  A couple of weeks ago, B and I arrived at 1pm and saw a mother with 2 little girls on the backside of the park.  B ran over to them while I was getting our water and snacks out of the car.  B was going to ask them if they were part of our homeschool group, but before he could saw anything, the mother asked B, "Why are you here?"  Seriously?!  She just elevated the level of rudeness up a notch.  B replied that he was here for his homeschool group's  weekly playdate and asked if she was part of the group.  She didn't politely say, "no," she said she'd never heard of his group.

Now, if I was with B when this woman asked her rude question, I could not answer her with, "He's here because it's a public park and we have just as much of a right as you do."  You know why?  Because then my rudeness would give this woman the impression that all homeschoolers are rude.  If I stood up to every person who told me that my child was not being socialized, or quizzed my son to see what he knows, that would put a bad taste in their mouths about all homeschoolers.  Do you think any of these people worry that their rude and intrusive questions tell us that all publicschoolers are this rude?  Nope, because we don't think that.  Just like I don't think every single driver from Ohio is a jackass because one happened to cut me off on the road.

However, each one of us homeschoolers has to bite our tongue, take a deep breath and educate total strangers about the details of our home lives for the good of us all.  Homeschool Ambassador.  *sigh*  I didn't sign up for this.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Recipe: Not Your Regular Sloppy Joes

Before tonight, not only have I never made a Sloppy Joe, but I'd never even eaten one!  For a couple of years, B has been raving about these Sloppy Joes he had at a friend's house once and begging me to make them.  Finally, I contacted my friend, CC, and asked for her recipe.  Turns out, it is from one of Jessica Seinfeld's cookbooks, Deceptively Delicious.  I have both of her cookbooks in my collection but never gave the Sloppy Joes a second glance because, well, I've never had them and had no desire to.  My only exposure to the meal was the Manwich commercials from my childhood.  I did not eat ground beef as a child, not even hamburgers (I think it was a texture issue), and my mom never made them.  I've never been served them at any function or dinner at a friend's house.  But I am so glad I made them tonight!  Something that is healthier for us and all three of us liked - woohoo!

You may or may not know this, but Jessica Seinfeld's recipe include "sneaking" pureed vegetables into each dish.  She, like most parents, found it difficult to get her children to eat a variety of vegetables and discovered she could slip some into meals - breakfast, lunch dinner, snacks, even desserts! - without the kids noticing a difference in taste.  I actually modified a Chicken Lasagna recipe after being inspired by Jessica Seinfeld and it's been a hit with my family as well as with guests.  I substitute half or all of the cream of chicken soup the original recipe calls for with purred vegetables.  I've made my lasagna with pureed yellow squash, carrots and pumpkin, but the most popular is with butternut squash.  Since Jessica Seinfeld's Sloppy Joes recipe called for pureed butternut squash and sweet potatoes, I decided I could make my Chicken Lasagna, too!  That recipe will be coming later in the week.  But onto the Sloppy Joes...

Halloween Decor

Inspired by Pinterest, B and I decided to decorate our front door for Halloween this morning.  So fun!  He decided how he wanted the face to to look and I pulled out the door sting from the basement, rolled it up and used it for the hair.  We have no overhang on the front door.  So, if it rains between now and Halloween we'll have to remake the face.  But we're OK with that!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Duplicating the Whipped Cocoa Bath from The Spa at Hershey Hotel for B

A very generous friend took me with her to The Spa at Hershey Hotel a couple of weekends ago.  When B learned that one of my spa treatments was the Whipped Cocoa Bath, he asked, "Mom, please take a cup with you, scoop some of the hot chocolate from your bath into it, put a lid on the cup and bring it home for me!" I told one of my technicians what he said and she informed me how to duplicate the bath at home for him.  I was so excited to do that because B loves taking baths, and he'll stay in them forever if you let him.  I usually let him go 45 minutes but the hubs makes him get out in 30.

So, B had his Whipped Cocoa Bath Monday night and was in heaven:

Three ingredients: cocoa, powdered milk, The Spa at Hershey Hotel's Whipped Cocoa Bath.

He only lasted 15 minutes before calling me to help him get out!  I asked him if he didn't like it or if he was having an allergic reaction to it.  "No," he said. "I'm so relaxed, I'm afraid I'll fall asleep and drown."  Well, if that isn't an endorsement, I don't know what is!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Taking Back The Junk Room

When we moved into this house 4 years ago, as we have done with every one of the 11 moves we've done in the last 17 years, we labeled boxes with colors to designate in which room each should go.  Our current house is 1,700 square feet but our previous house was 3,008 square feet.  Although every room in the previous house was most definitely not filled, we had plenty of room and storage, so it never looked cluttered.  When we moved into this house, the 3rd bedroom became a catch all for things that did not have a place in the the kitchen, living room, family room, bathrooms, B's bedroom, our bedroom, basement or garage.  The color assigned to this 3rd bedroom was black so it became known as "the black room".

We figured that as we settled into this house, we would be able to go through the boxes in the black room and either find a place for those things or get rid of them.  Four years later, some things have moved out of that room, but not much, and many more things that came into the house ended up there if we could not find a place for them.  I had always hoped it would be a bedroom for another child, but I need to let that go.

Friday, October 5, 2012

He REALLY Knows How To Get Me

The other night I was putting B down, and we had this conversation:

B: Do you want to have a sleepover in my room tonight?
Me: I can't tonight, baby.  I still have to shower and wash clothes before I can go to bed.
B: Come sleepover after you do all that.
Me: Why?  I wouldn't be with you when you fell asleep.  I know you don't like falling asleep alone.  You wouldn't even know that I came back into the room.
B: But you'd be the first thing I saw when I woke up tomorrow.  That's why.

He had the most angelic look on his face when he said that!  He wasn't trying to con me; he was serious.  I told this story to my mom this afternoon and she said, "Holy cow! Does he really know how to get you or what!" She laughed.  Then she said, "But seriously, he is amazing and it's because of his parents.  You two are doing an amazing job raising that boy with so much love.  You're wonderful parents."

I'm tearing up now typing that.  Validation from your own parent, no matter how good or how bad a parent they were to you, means more, I think, than validation from just about any other source.  I know I reap what I sow in B and I beat myself up over all the wrong/bad/negative/imperfect things I do that will affect him for the rest of his life.  But my mom made me realize that I am good, I am a good person, I am a good mother.  The seeds we sow each and every day in our son are not bought at the store nor created in a lab.  They are our seeds; they are pieces of us that we sow in our son.  What and who he is is a reflection of what and who we are.  Yes, ownership is on us for things he does that hurt/shock/insult/embarrass others.  But we also own every complement/admiration/laugh/wonder he receives.  There are so many more of the latter than the former.

We are amazing parents, proudly raising this amazing boy with love, laughter, thoughtfulness, all the best that is in us, because this amazing boy, this gift from God, shows us the way.  Yes, we reap what we sow and the hubs and I are, evidently, pretty damn good seeds.

Monday, October 1, 2012

My Toilet Paper Woes

Granted, I am one female living with two males.  Females, naturally, use toilet paper for every visit to the restroom and males only use toilet paper on some visits. (Although they only use TP when they poop, I feel they should also be using it to dab themselves when they pee, instead of just shaking off the excess).  However, since the one and only female in this house does the majority of the cleaning, whoever uses up a roll of toilet paper should change. The darn. Roll of toilet paper.

I just walked into the powder room for the umpteenth time and found this:

ERRRRR!  Thankfully, I ensure that there are spare rolls in each bathroom for just such emergencies or else I'd be up shit's creek without a paddle!  Literally!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Grilled Bruschetta Chicken

Here's another great recipe that my friend, Julia, shared with me - Grilled Bruschetta Chicken from Kraft Foods.  I declared it International Night in our house and made Grilled Bruschetta Chicken, guacamole and fried rice for dinner.  :o)  This chicken dish is easy and fast, a great last minute entree you can throw together in 30 minutes or less.  It's so easy, that I don't even follow the recipe measurements; I just eyeball and dump things together, depending on how many I'm cooking for.  So here we go...

You only need 5 ingredients: chicken, sun-dried tomato vinaigrette (or just Italian dressing if that's what you've got), basil, fresh tomato and mozzarella cheese.  First, pour some dressing over the chicken.

While the chicken is marinating, wash and chop a tomato and fresh basil.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Paper Back Swap

I know I've written about www.paperbackswap.com before. It's even on My Favorite Things tab. I post books I want to pass onto others. I get a message when someone wants one of my books. I log into my PBS account, print off a shipping label, wrap the book and mail it off at the cheap media mail rate. I've only spent more than $2.48 to mail a book once. I get one credit for every book I send, which I use to receive books from others. The person sending me the book pays for shipping and I pay nothing.

Yesterday, I received 2 requests for books I own, one of which, I had receiced from another PBS user and am now forwarding it on since I'm done (Fifty Shades). I used to go to the post office to buy postage and ship the books, but now I buy the postage online through PBS and it is printed on the label for me!

I fell so happy, putting those books in the mailbox, closing the door and lifting the red flag for our mail carrier. I know the joy of opening my mailbox and seeing a book I've requested arrive. I really enjoy being united in the love of reading with total strangers, all over the country! One PBS member sent me a very nice thank you message last year. She lives in Alaska and said very few other PBS members will send her books due to higher postage for the greater distance (it was $3.28 to send that book). It brought joy to her by sending her a book and she brought joy to me by expressing her appreciation. We all need daily joy and can provide it to anyone, anywhere.

(Wrote this on my phone through the Blogger app while at B's last handwriting lesson. Don't think I'll be doing this often!)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Review of Big Apple Circus at Dulles Town Center, Loudoun County, Virginia

We went to The Big Apple Circus yesterday and had a blast!*  The tent is intimate - seats less than 1,800 - so every seat is close to the action.  One act performs at a time and there weren't any lasers or fireworks or props all lit up light like Christmas trees.  That is very important to me, the mom of a child who gets sensory overload pretty easily.  The crew is very efficient when changing the ring for acts.  In fact, you may not even notice them at all because you are looking up at a solo trapeze act or laughing at the clowns' high jinx in the stands.

The theme of this, their 35th, season is LEGENDARIUM: A JOUNEY INTO CIRCUS PAST.  We enjoyed classic acts from when circuses began - horses, trapeze, clowns, contortions and acrobats.  Things I hadn't seen before were a slack wire, tangoing jugglers or were they juggling tangoers and trick bikes to bring us back to the present.  Each act was wonderful.  There's no magic, no slight of hand, no trickery.  It's athletes and performers who awed, amazed and entertained us with their strength, skills and talents.

Our seats were front row, center!  We were so close to the action, it was hard to not reach out and touch the beautiful horses as they went by or feel the costume of the female acrobat in Quinterion as she strutted on the ledge in front of us.  So close, in fact, that when those horses got up to a nice trot, they kicked up some floor shavings onto us.  It was a 3-D show!  LOL  Don't worry, the staff was diligent about keeping the floor shaving clean of any animal droppings, so we stayed clean, too.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I Believe A National Anthem Deserves Respect

The flag in front of our house at night, lit up, as it deserves to be.
I don't begrudge anyone for not knowing all the words to The Star Spangled Banner, even though I've ensured everyone in my house knows the words.  But I do believe that if you live in a country, are a citizen of a country, reap the benefits of a country, especially if one of those benefits is the freedom to speak out against that country, that you should give that country's flag and anthem the respect it deserves.

Against my will, I've watched lots of baseball and football games recently, and I'm disappointed in the individuals on the field during The National Anthem.  Like I've said, I don't expect you to sing along perfectly, nor sing along at all!  Everyone on the field has a ton of things on their minds when they have a game to play.  However, I believe for the few minutes that our national anthem is sung or played, every person on the field should honor the country in which they get paid hundred of thousands or millions of dollars to do what they love to do.  People risk their lives to enter this country and have a better life for their families.  Citizens leave their families and go to war in foreign countries to defend our flag, protect our citizens and allow the freedoms that pay professional athletes obscene amounts of money.  So I want to see everyone on the field setting the example by facing our flag, holding their right hand over their heart and staying in that position until the anthem is over.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Life of Fred - Our Math Curriculum

This is where B does his Math.

We chose Life of Fred this year for B's Math curriculum.  What I love about Life of Fred is that it is independent study for B.  He reads a chapter or 2 by himself on the days we do Math and answers the questions at the end of each chapter.  Even though he is in 4th grade, we followed the suggestion of the creators and had B start from the 1st Life of Fred book to ensure he is building on all concepts.  My goal is for him to complete the 1st 10 books before we start 5th grade; he started the 3rd book, Cats, earlier this week.  

loves reading about Fred's life and the adventures he and his doll, Kingie, have.  He's especially impressed with how well Kingie can draw.  ;o)  I enjoy hearing B laugh as he reads and several times, he's stopped to share with me something funny or amazing.

The other means of teaching Math the past 2 years (Math-U-See and workbooks) have not been successful with B, with the exception of flash cards.  At least he's interested in this form of Math lesson and I can't wait to see where he'll be in knowledge, understanding and application at the end of the year.  I'm very pleased so far by reviewing his answers at the end of each chapter.  :o)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Letting B Handle Disappointment

Last month, I posted here that B and I were going to start a craft club in our homeschool group for the older elementary-aged kids.  He and I have had so much fun looking for and pinning craft ideas!  Yesterday was the 1st craft club meeting and we were so excited.  I cleaned (and sweated) for 2.5 hours, printed out templates, gathered supplies, set up a name tag station (because I have the worst memory), B made our name tags, we stuck them on our shirts and we hung a "WELCOME CRAFTERS" sign on the mailbox at the curb so everyone would know which house we were.  Then, we eagerly awaited the arrival of our fellow crafters.

No one showed.  Even though I had received RSVPs, no one emailed or called to say they weren't coming.  We moms are famous for committing to something and have every intention to go to the thing we've been waiting to go to and then the day of, all hell breaks loose in the house.  Someone's sick, someone gets punished, a repairman needs to come to the house, there's a family emergency, etc.  I get it, I've done it.  Life happens.  But I wish they'd have let us know.  At least the hubs was mighty grateful to come home to a clean house!  ;o)

B was so disappointed.  He's a very sensitive kid and cries at the drop of a hat.  Has a history of crying over everything, just like his mama.  Although, I don't throw myself down on the floor, gnashing my teeth, rending my garments and screaming while I cry.  I'd like to sometimes, but I don't.  B has gotten much better, especially over the last year.  He doesn't melt into puddles over every disappointment or every single thing that goes wrong now.  He can hold it together for about the 1st 17 times but when the 18th thing happens...puddles...gnashing...rending...etc.  But none of that happened yesterday.  He wore his emotions on his dejected face and was quiet (for once!), but no tears.  He asked to ride his bike, so we went outside.  We also played catch, basketball (I hate that sport) and golf.

I was the one trying to hold back tears, watching my boy silently keep it together, but knowing by his expression and hung head how he really felt.  Him being silent kinda freaked me out.  I wanted to do something for him to make up for it - take him bowling, to a movie or out for ice cream.  But I had to resist.  Disappointment is a huge part of life and life rarely hands out bowling, movie or ice cream consolation prizes.  I had to let him feel it, deal with it, learn from it.  It was one of those terribly hard, sucky parts of parenting that hurt my heart.  I'm tearing up right now, reliving it!

But kids bounce and my kid does not hold grudges.  His PopPop took him to his handwriting class this morning and they go out to lunch afterwards.  His Nana asked him how craft club went and he matter-of-factly told her no one showed and then wanted to confirm that he would be back in time for our weekly, group park outing this afternoon.  That boy teaches me so much.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Random Things Heard In Our House Over The Last Week

I've been using a new line of skincare and I love how soft and smooth my skin is now.
Me: Feel my neck.
The hubs (Poking my neck): What's wrong with it?
Me: Nothing.  Just feel it.  Run your hands up and down it.  Isn't it smooth?
The hubs: Yeah.  Did you shave?

B: *sigh* I wish I could eat sprinkles right out of the box.
The hubs: There's only one thing stopping you, you know.
B: My mother, the arch-nemesis of sweets.

The hubs absolutely hates ceiling lights.
Me: Would you like me to turn off that light over you?
The hubs: It might be difficult to turn off; it's a halo.  *bats eyelashes*

Me to the hubs: I swear to God if you create an Alex P. Keaton in our son, I will hurt you.

Me: Please tell me you washed the rosemary before putting it in your compound butter!
The hubs: I washed the rosemary before putting it in the compound butter.
Me: You washed and dried it? I don't see the paper towels you used to dry it.
The hubs: I...didn't dry it.
Me: (Walk over to the remaining rosemary on the cutting board and feel it.) It's dry.  You didn't wash the rosemary!
The hubs: You just said to tell you I'd washed the rosemary...

B: Oh, I love the Ellen DeGenerate Show!

A friend and her 2 daughters stayed with us for 3 days.  After the first couple of hours of them being here, B said to me with conviction....
B: Yup.  I'm gonna love living with them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


A little over a week ago, I ran over to the Hair Cuttery where we all get our hair done to see our gal about my eyebrows.  My hair is naturally curly and most stylists do not know how to cut curly hair!  My gal is great at it and she does my eyebrows, too.   I can trust her with my eyebrows.  All I like is a little cleanup, no re-shaping, no removing of most of my eyebrows.

I was in a hurry and my gal had just gotten someone in her chair for a cut.  Her nice co-worker had also just gotten someone in her chair for a cut.  I could wait for my gal or I could have the 3rd gal, who was rarely busy (and for good reason, I would imagine) do them.  I hesitated.  "Wellllllll, as long as you can trust her to do a good job...," I said to my gal.  "Oh. Yeah. You'll be fine," she said, with a look on her face I could not interpret at the time.  In hindsight, it was the same hesitant look on my face.  Did I mention this other stylist, who was rarely busy, was the manager?  My gal's boss?

And all of you ladies reading this know exactly what happened next.  It happens every time we try someone new at a salon.  "I don't want them thinned; I just want them cleaned up.  I can't seem to keep up the maintenance with tweezers at home."  "Keep same shape, right?" she asked.  "Yes!" I said with relief.  I closed my eyes, laid back and relaxed.

For some reason, instead of saying, "I'm all done," or "What do you think," she repeated poked me in the shoulder until I opened my eyes.  I sat up and looked in the mirror.  *sigh*  The shape of my eyebrows was no longer there.  She waxed off the tops and the bottoms, leaving less than half of them, and also used scissors to cut what was left close to my head.  :o/  There is nothing to brush - LOL!

Now, don't get me wrong; a stranger on a street would think nothing of my eyebrows.  But to me they are shocking and abnormal.  I've seen plenty of eyebrows thinner than this out on the world.  But they'll grow back and I learned my lesson.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Train's Drive By

Have you heard this song?  I like it; catchy tune.  However, there is a line in the refrain that I do not like.  I don't care how sincere you are nor how honorable your intentions may be.  You will not win me over by calling me "...a 2-ply Hefty bag...".  Period.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Reading Fifty Shades of Grey: My need for a dictionary and it's similarity to another bestselling series

We got this book a few months ago, hoping to read it together at night after B went to bed.  *snort*  The hubs could not last more than a paragraph and a half before falling asleep!  So, last week I decided to start reading the book on my own and by Chapter 5 I had come to two conclusions:
  1. I must keep a dictionary with me while I read, and
  2. It's quite similar to the Twilight books!
Here are just a few examples of words in Fifty Shades of Gray that cause me to have a dictionary handy:
  • Castigating
  • Taciturn
  • Fisting (The dictionary was no help with this one, so I had to consult Wikipedia.  Holy crap! How does it even get in there?!  And why would you want yourself that stretched out?!)
  • Mercurial
Here are the similarities I have found between Fifty Shades and Twilight:
  • Written in the 1st person, solely from the POV of the main female character
  • Both novels take place in the Pacific Northwest
  • Anastasia and Bella are young, innocent, inexperienced, clumsy and skinny brunettes
  • They both have two male friends that want to be more, one of whom is all-American (Paul and Mike), the other being a minority (Jose and Jacob)
  • They both have flighty moms with a long list of fervent and then abandoned passions, multiple marriages and a keen insight into men when their daughter's wish they weren't so on the mark
  • They both want these men but the men won't touch them
  • They both like classic literature and compare their relationships to one story in particular (Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Romeo & Juliet)
  • Christian and Edward are older in spirit than their age, they're worldly, rich, brooding, wish they could read Anastasia's and Bella's minds, warn these ladies to stay away from them but they themselves cannot stay away from these ladies and rescue the ladies from harm.
  • Both men have the same hair - style and color!
  • Both men like to sniff these ladies, are hiding a deep, dark secret and have a fun-loving, teasing brother
  • Both men demand any physical relationship must be on their terms.
But then, there are similarities in other forms of entertainment, as well.  Most romantic comedies follow the same plot.  Most "heaving bosom books" (what my aunt calls historical romances because of the pictures on the front covers) are the same - innocent girl, experienced man, one's rich, one's poor, he's rude, she hates him, passion ignites, he takes, she gives, their pride keeps them apart, many tears ensue and then they get together in the end.

Oh, well.  I'm happy to not be reading curriculum, researching curriculum or reading non-fiction about how to assist my son with functioning in this world.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Goodbye, Leftover Wednesday

The past two weeks with my Menu Planning to include lunches and breakfasts has been amazing!  We've not eaten out once and there was plenty of food in the house.  So much food, that we only ate sandwiches 1 or 2 times for lunch; we had dinner leftovers for lunch.  I learned that I don't need to buy as much food because of the plethora of food that my planning and shopping produced.  I wasn't scrambling through the cupboards, looking and trying to put meals together the closer and closer it came to our next bi-weekly shopping trip.

And for that reason, I am stopping the weekly Leftover Wednesday.  I will still post plenty of my cooking, and some will be created with leftovers, I'm sure.  But I won't be posting a leftover meal every Wednesday anymore.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Homemade Ice Cream!

B wanted to make ice cream when we created his Summer Bucket List.  I found a recipe all over the internet and Pinterest that involved a Ziploc bag of ice cream ingredients inside another Ziploc bag of rock salt and ice, shaken for at least 5 minutes and then hurry up and eat it before it melts.  But I kept searching and found this fabulous recipe on Positively Peaches.  In less than 20 minutes, following this fabulous recipe, I had made 2 batches of ice cream, one Vanilla and one Mint Chocolate Chip!  If you have been wanting to try homemade ice cream, I highly recommend you try Positively Peaches' simple and delicious recipe!

It's ridiculous how easy this is!  I whipped 2 cups of heavy cream in my Kitchen-Aid mixer until it reached stiff peaks (bowl on the left).  You could also do this with an electric hand mixer.  I mixed a can of sweetened, condensed milk in the bowl on the right with 2 tsp of vanilla extract.

Then I folded the whipped heavy cream into the bowl of sweetened condensed milk with vanilla extract and then put the mixture into a plastic, lidded container and placed it in the freezer - Vanilla!

I whipped another 2 cups of heavy cream and, in a separate bowl, mixed together a can of sweetened condensed milk, 1 tsp of peppermint extract left over from the peppermint bark I made last Christmas and some mini chocolate chips.

Then I folded the whipped heavy cream into the bowl of sweetened condensed milk with peppermint extract & choco chips and then put the mixture into a plastic, lidded container and placed it in the freezer - Mint Chocolate Chip!

I put the ice creams in the freezer for four hours.  B had the Mint Chocolate Chip for dessert and said, "Oh my gosh!  This is so creamy and flavorful!"

 The hubs had a brownie a la mode with the Vanilla ice cream and said, "It's very rich and creamy!"

Give it a try and let me, and Positively Peaches, know how much you like it, too!