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?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

"I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections"

I've found another kindred spirit in a new book I started yesterday, "I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections" by Nora Ephron.  By page 7, she had me; she was talking about me.  Sad that I have the same memory affliction at 30 years her junior, but comforting to know I'm not the only one.  And it's always good to be able to relate to someone and laugh about your common experiences.  Funny book so far!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Leftover Wednesday - Skinnytaste.com's Cilantro Lime Tilapia Tacos

This is a pic of one of my tacos. Please go to skinny taste.com and look at Gina's  photo - her's are pretty!
I am pretty proud of us this week!  We had very little leftover today.  We've been eating leftovers before making new meals.  Yeah us!  My wonderful friend, Julia, who shared the Grilled Greek Chicken Kabobs and Kraft Foods recipe site with me years ago, shared another recipe site with me last week: Skinny Taste.  Julia also gave me the names of some recipes she's tried from the website.  One was Cilantro Lime Tilapia Tacos.  Tilapia happens to be a staple that I keep in my freezer but I don't have a ton of recipes, so I was excited to get a "thumbs up" from Jules on this one.

Going through the fridge this afternoon, I discovered that the only leftovers I had were baked potatoes and guacamole ingredients.  I had heard about baked potatoes in the crock pot from my friend Clair last year and I've seen them on Pinterest a lot, too.  So I made 4 of them on Monday.  Awesome!  When I wanted to avoid heating the house up with the oven for baked potatoes, I just did them in the microwave.  But the quality is not there from the microwave.  I'll never do them in the oven or microwave again.  I chose not to use the potatoes for dinner tonight because they always get used up in my breakfast hashes.

The hubs makes a fantastic guacamole.   He was going to make some this past weekend, but it didn't happen.  When I pulled the guac fixins out of the fridge, I immediately thought of the Cilantro Lime Tilapia Tacos.  So the unused avocado, tomato, cilantro, jalepeno, lime and onion, as well as the tilapia and corn tortillas I had on hand, all went into these tacos.

The hubs and I loved them; B did not.  The recipe calls for 1 pound of tilapia and says it makes 8 tacos.  I pulled 3 tilapia fillets from the freezer, weighing a little under 12 oz total, and cut the rest of the ingredients down to 3/4 of what the recipe called for.  And we still had plenty for 8 full tacos.  Next time, I'll cut the recipe in half because I don't want this leftover - not a fan of reheating fish.  However, I bet the leftovers would be great cold, all on their own, or tossed in a cold green or rice salad with a vinaigrette.

I tried one other recipe from this site over the past week - Chicken Rollatini with Spinach alla Parmigiana.  Did not turn out well.  I was the only one who would eat more than one bite and I just forced my portion down.  It was totally user error, though.  Next time, I will sauté or steam fresh spinach instead of using frozen (I end up with more leaf and less stem that way) and will not put so much stuffing in each breast.

I look forward to trying many more recipes from Skinny Taste!  If you try the tacos, or if you try any other recipes from Skinny Taste, please let me know how you liked them!

Day 2 of Exercise or Why I Will Never Do Jumping Jacks Again Without a Sports Bra or Duct Tape On.

I came downstairs yesterday morning and realized I should do my "exercises" before I ate breakfast.  Yes, I just put the word exercise in quotes because, let's be honest, what I'm doing at this point cannot qualify as real exercise.  But I'm moving, and as small of a movement as this is, I wold normally still blow it off, so I'm just glad I am making it a habit.  Anywho, I looked up day 2's requirement on the list: 35 jumping jacks and 15 crunches.

On Monday, day 1, I "exercised" between breakfast and lunch, after showering and dressing, so I had a bra on.  Yesterday morning under my PJs I had on....how can I describe it, because it cannot be considered a bra.  A bra must have support, lift.  The thing I wear to bed is kinda sorta shaped like a bra, but it's a pull over and barely maintaining any elasticity.  What do you call something when it's purpose is, basically, just to sit between my boobs and my stomach?  Cuz that's what I wear to bed each night.  It's basically a layer of material that allows me to avoid the sticky, sweatiness of having my boobs sit on my upper stomach.  I wonder if it falls more in the "bro" or "manssiere" category (Seinfeld reference.  If you don't know what it means, most likely you're too young to be a fan of the show.  Go watch "The Doorman" episode from season 6.  Trust me, my use of the words "bro" and "massiere" will not only mean something to you after watching the episode, but it will also make you laugh.  And, you'll be able to throw it out at the appropriate moment in a conversation with older people and get a great laugh from us.  Now, back to my garment...)  See, moobs (man boobs) are not muscular nor perky.  They are flabby and sit on the upper stomach.  So, yeah, I had on my "bro" yesterday morning.  (Kramer and Mr. Costanza argue throughout the episode about the name - bro or manssiere.  I actually prefer the manssiere, but since bro is shorter to type, I'm going with that.  I'm giggling at the keyboard thinking of that episode.  Please go watch it if you haven't already.  It will make your life better.  You can pull the memory out when you are stuck in traffic or up all night with a sick child and it will make you smile.)  So, I debated going back upstairs and putting on a real bra or, better yet, a sports bra because I know my bro will not contain the girls when I start jumping those jacks.  But I didn't.  Cuz I'm lazy.  And I paid for that laziness.  I walked out to the living room, stood with my feet together and hands by my side.  35 jumping jacks. How hard could it be? We can do this, girls; we've been through worse.  Right?  WRONG.

I jumped up in the air, my legs parted, my arms went out and over my head.  My body reached the pinnacle of it's ascent and started back towards the ground.  The girls, however, did not.  "A body in motion stays in motion."  Remember learning that in physics?  The girls, do.  And the bigger or heavier an object is, is takes more force to stop it or reverse its direction.  It was like that moment when the roller coaster goes over the top of that first hill and you experience weightlessness.  My girls were in Heaven.  Like your average 8 month pregnant woman is when she gets in a pool.  My girls were shooting for the stars.  They could taste freedom; it was within their grasp.  But then my feet hit the ground and my girls can only stretch so far.  Like the yank behind Harry Potter's bellybutton going through a port key, the girls were wrenched back from "the light" and slammed against my chest with the force of The Hulk jumping off the top of a high-rise.  The force was so great, it literally knocked the wind out of my lungs.  "HUH!"  They hit so hard the air in my lungs actually flew out on that guttural sound.  Every. Single. Time. I landed.  By jumping jack #7, B came running into the room. "Are you OK, Mom?!" The look on his face went from concern to alarm to WTF and then pure, boy fascination at what my boobs were doing.  As humiliated as I was, and in as much pain as I was, I knew if I stopped before I reached 35, I'd never start again.  "I'm HUH! fineHUH! Go HUH! back HUH! to HUH! watch HUH! ing HUH! your HUH! show.  HUH!"

Shear force of I-am-woman-hear-me-roar will made me finish the 35 jumping jacks and then immediately do the 15 crunches before I could stop and think.  Or cry.  When I was done with the crunches, I just lay there on the floor with one arm flung over my eyes.  Cursing my laziness.  Why didn't I just go up and change my damn bro?!  Then I started laughing.  Someone once told me, "What are you gonna do?  It's laugh or cry."  And I cry enough at movies and commercials and books.

Monday, May 28, 2012

I Gotta Get Movin'

The last time I was this heavy, I was pregnant with B.  I have got to start moving, exercising, in order to stop gaining and then start losing.  I found The Starter's Exercise Plan on Pinterest, so I started it today.  Day 1 wasn't bad at all: 30 jumping jacks and 10 crunches.  I need to start somewhere, and starting with something that's easy gave me a sense of accomplishment and the motivation to do it again tomorrow.  It's a start!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I Just Finished "I Don't Know How She Does It"!

W.O.W.  What a fantastic book!  I can't wait to talk about it with my readers who have picked it up since I started reading it.  As you know, I checked it out of the library and posted here how affected I was by just the 1st two chapters.  I was about to start chapter 26 when my own copy arrived in the mail from my brother.  My highlighter has been by my side and put to good use from then on!  Now that I am finished with the book, I am going to read it again from the beginning, so I can highlight what I want from the 1st 25 chapters!

Such a powerful book for everyone, not just mothers.  Dads, men who employ mothers, men employed by mothers, any man with a mother in his life can benefit from this book.  This is an accurate picture of what it is like.  Even I, as a mom, one who has been a SAHM and a WOHM, did not fully comprehend nor acknowledge how unequal we still are to men!  Not only in the workplace but also at home!

I can't recommend this book enough.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Science Class - Weather Experiments

We have been learning about weather in Science class for the last month, and this week we did some experiments.  We learned that air pushes up, not just down and side-to-side, with an experiment that made B feel like a magician.  We made our own barometer to see how the air pressure changes with the weather and demonstrated how a traditional thermometer works.  These experiments can be found on pages 58, 59  and 65 of  "The Usborne Book of Science Activities, Volume Three".

1.  The Pushing Air Trick
We learned that even though we don't feel the air around us all the time, it's there and pushes on everything. We feel it push against us when it moves as wind, but this experiment showed us that it pushes in all directions, even up.

B filled a plastic cup all the way up to the brim with water, then covered it with a plastic-coated postcard and pushed the card down.  He kept one hand flat on top of the postcard and held the bottom of the cup with the other hand.  Then, over the sink, he turned the cup upside down and removed the hand holding the postcard.  He laughed with glee when the postcard stayed under the cup, exclaiming. "I'm doing a magic trick!"  The air under the postcard was pushing up enough to keep it in place.

2. Homemade Barometer
To measure how much and when air pushes more than other times, we made our own barometer with an empty mason jar, balloon, straw, rubber band, tape and cardboard (cut from a cereal box in the recycle bin).

I cut the "neck" off the balloon, stretched it over the mouth of the mason jar and B secured it with a rubber band.  I cut one tip of the straw at an angle to form a point and B taped the other end of the straw to the middle of the balloon.  Then B taped a piece of cardboard to the jar.  Using a pencil, B made a mark on the cardboard where the straw pointed and checked it several times this week for movement. 

We've had a lot of rain and thunderstorms come and go and the straw has mostly been pointing down. Yesterday morning, B woke me up, pouncing on the bed in excitement, "Mama!  Our barometer is finally pointing up!  We're out of low pressure and into high pressure, finally!" It was a clear, sunny morning.  When the air pressure outside the jar became high, it pushed down on the balloon, causing the pointed tip of the straw to rise.  When the air pressure outside the jar was low, the air in the jar pushed up and the pointed end of the straw lowered.

3. Homemade Thermometer
B had been asking exactly how a mercury thermometer works.  His Nana has one at her house but we only have a digital ear thermometer.  So this experiment came at the right time.

B took a bottle out of the recycle bin, pulled the label off and filled it with water.  I added some blue food coloring to the water.  With modeling clay, I sealed the top of the bottle with a straw sticking out of it.  B put the bottle in a glass bowl and I poured simmering water into the bowl (see photo, left).

As the blue water inside the bottle heated up from the simmering water outside of it, the blue water expanded and rose up the straw (see picture, below).  As the water cooled, it contracted and the straw emptied back to the way it was at the beginning of the experiment.

As the air around a thermometer warms up, the liquid in it rises.  As the air around a thermometer cools, the liquid inside lowers.

Water inside our thermometer rising from the heated water outside of it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Leftover Wednesday - Impossible Bacon Cheese Pie & Salad

We have 2 trash pickups per week - Mondays and Thursdays.  On Wednesday nights, we clean out the fridge.  We used to toss any leftovers that had not been eaten by Wednesday, but I am getting better and better at using them up.  So, I am challenging myself to start a new series - Leftover Wednesday - where I will post what I made for dinner that night, using up leftovers in the fridge.  Tonight, we had Impossible Bacon Cheese Pie and Salad.

Have you ever had one of Bisquick's Impossible Pies?  If not, than I am happy to introduce you to them!  And if you don't eat gluten, there are GF baking mixes out there you can substitute for the Bisquick, store brand or homemade baking mix of your choice.  I know what your thinking - what is an "impossible" pie?!  It's crustless.  You are making a "pie", or more accurately a quiche, without a bottom crust.  You put your pie "filling" into your dish and then pour over it a mixture of beaten egg, milk and Bisquick.  It's the addition of the Bisquick that allows your pie to stay together.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Wonderful Brother

I have an awesome family.  They are very supportive and only love unconditionally.  I have one sibling, my older brother, and he is the best.  He's the strong, silent type who likes to stay in the background but pays attention to everything.  He's also a very faithful reader of my blog.

He read my post earlier this month about checking "I Don't Know How She Does It" by Allison Pearson out of the library.  I got a box from Amazon in the mail today.  Inside was my very own copy of the book with a message from my brother that now I could highlight whatever I want to.  *sniff, sniff*  I love that big lug!

PS - he's single, has a solid job, owns his own home and is great with kids!

Monday, May 21, 2012

What did we do with all those strawberries?

Why, we made jam, cake topping, a smoothie ingredient and attempted drying them!

First of all, we made strawberry jam.  I've made this the past few years with strawberries and blueberries and it's easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.  But this year, B made the jam!  OK, not completely, but I did not do it all myself, so I am happy to give him props.  I love freezer jam because it is fast - it involves no cooking!  I hulled the strawberries and then B crushed them with a potato masher, added a Ball's freezer jam packet of pectin and some sugar and then stirred for 3 minutes.  That's it!  Then B ladled the jam into the Ball jars that my Nana and Papa used to can their own garden's bounty, I put the lids on them and off they went to the freezer.  They last 12 months in the freezer and 3 weeks once you move them to the fridge.
A year and a half old video I took of B finding out that he was going to DisneyWorld for the 1st time aired on America's Funniest Videos last night.  We had a "viewing party" - invited my parents and my brother over to eat dinner and watch B cross something off his Bucket List at 9 years of age.  My mom made a pound cake for dessert.  I hulled some more of the strawberries we'd picked and just mashed them up with my potato masher.  We served it over the pound cake, vanilla ice cream and pound cake topped with vanilla ice cream.  Did I mention my mom brought a can of whipped topping, too?

Strawberries, Strawberries, Strawberries

B and I were invited to go strawberry picking last Thursday morning with 2 other homeschool moms and their children.  When we arrived, we met some other homeschool moms that we knew who had just finished picking and a few more showed up after us.  It was like a homeschool convention, one mom said!  :o)  We went to Wegmeyer Farms and I have not seen better strawberries than at this place.  We have picked at other farms in the Washington, DC area, but this has now become our favorite!  There were so many beautiful, ripe, delicious strawberries.  We picked 2 buckets and it was hard to stop picking because there were so many to choose from!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Review and Giveaway - lilla rose

My hair is naturally curly and has been long most of my life.  The hubs fell in love with my hair.  Not just my hair!  Believe it or not, I have many other wonderful qualities, both inside and out, that made that stud fall in love with me.  But he loved my hair.  I say "loved" because I cut it all off last Fall.  And although he was less than thrilled, I loved it.  I hate things touching my face, including my hair.  So when my hair was long and I left it down, I was constantly pulling it off my face or tucking it behind my ears.  If you've ever seen an interview with Kirstie Alley, you know what I mean.  If you haven't, by golly go to YouTube and find one!  It is totally distracting and drives me crazy to watch!  In my defense though, I was not as bad as her.  I don't think she can keep her hands off her hair for more than 23 seconds.  I've found myself yelling at the TV several times, "Just put it UP, already!"

And that's what I did with my hair most of the time - put it up.  A headband, a ponytail with a twisty or a scrunchii or using a hair claw or banana clip (I'm dating myself with that one).  They all accomplished keeping my hair off my face, but most of them made my head hurt.  So, I thought, If I just have my hair up all the time, why not cut it off?  It would be up without the pain.  And I loved it!  For a time.  Now I'm ready to grow it back out but am in that awkward and ugly "growing it out" stage.  When I first got it cut, I looked like Jamie Lee Curtis. :o)  Then it grew out some and I looked like Halle Berry. :o)  Now that it's grown out some more, I look like Blanch Devereaux or Dorothy Zbornak (once again, dating myself). :o( Not only is my hair unattractive, but it's also touching my face - falling on my forehead and cheeks.

So, when my friend, Bahar @ The Persian Tangent, asked me if I would be willing to try and review a couple of her lilla rose hair accessories, I jumped at the chance.  She gave me this Lovely Circle Stone-set of bobby pins and a Sparkling Silver Headband.  The bobby pins excited me, the headband...not so much.  I've never met one that didn't squeeze my head.  Well, I was pleasantly surprised.  The "adjustable comfort band" was great.  I was able to adjust the band so that it would not come off but was comfortable for me.  Once I gain more hair length in the back to hide the headband from view, I'll be wearing it outside of the house (I've been wearing it in the house).

The bobby pins are not my grandmother's bobby pins.  They are very tight and I like that.  They stay in place, no sliding down or out during the day, no required adjustments.  Just as important as being functional and comfortable, they're pretty; I have bling in my hair!  Which made me want to put a little bling on my earlobes and around my neck.  Once again, Bahar has effortlessly transformed Mrs. Schlumpadump and I'm so grateful she has.  :o)  I can't wait for my hair to be long enough to use the Flexi Clips (shown below)!

Now to the best part - a giveaway!  Bahar has graciously offered any catalog item, up to $15, to one of my readers.  $15 might not sound like a lot, but over half of the items in the catalog fall within that amount.  Here's how to enter:

  1. Explore Bahar's lilla rose site and then leave me a comment here, telling me which item you'd choose if you won the giveaway,
  2. Share this blog post on Facebook and leave a comment here, stating that you did so, or
  3. "Like" The Persian Tangent on Facebook and leave a comment here, stating that you did so.
You may enter one, two or all three ways, but you need to leave a separate comment for each entry after you have accomplished them, in order to get credit for each entry.  Don't forget to leave me information so I can contact the winner: your email address, your Facebook link, link to your own blog, whatever you are comfortable with.  Entries must be received by 11:59pm ET, Thursday, May 24, 2012.  Winner will be randomly selected and announced on Friday, May 25, 2012.  Good luck!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Roasted Corn for Cheaters

Do you like the taste and look of shucked corn on the cob roasted on the grill?  Well, corn on the cob is not available all year round, or it's available but you don't have any on hand or you just may want some in a quicker and easier way.  I have a solution!  This corn is a great addition to salsas, guacamoles, salads and tacos.
Pour some frozen corn into a strainer and rinse with cool tap water for a minute to thaw.
Put a non-stick pan over medium heat and let it get hot.

Empty corn from strainer onto paper towels and spread out to a single layer. Then roll the corn up in the paper towels to dry them.  You need to get the moisture off the corn.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Recipe: Chicken Stir-Fry

Not the best photo! I totally forgot to take a picture of the wok or a plate before we dug in. So, this is what was left in the wok after we had devoured our shares.  Sorry!
The hubs made a double batch of rice last night to go with our Quick and Tasty Tilapia and I wanted to incorporate it with dinner tonight.  I was not in the mood to make the labor intensive Benihana Attempt, so I just made my simple Chicken Stir-Fry.  Stir-fries, like soups, are a great way to use up leftover or near-their-expiration-date veggies.  Tomorrow is our major, once-every-2-weeks shopping trip.  I had the following in the fridge left over from the last trip:

  • one broccoli crown, 
  • one-third of a bag of baby carrots and 
  • baby bella mushrooms.
To those I added:
  • half a sweet onion, 
  • garlic, 
  • ginger, 
  • chicken breasts and
  • Wegmans Stir-Fry Sauce, all of which I always have on hand. The Stir-Fry Sauce is not only flavorful, it's gluten-free, lactose-free, fat-free and vegan!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Recipe: Quick and Tasty Tilapia

I've been making this dish for years.  So easy to prep and so delicious, this is a great dish for people to get their feet wet with cooking fish.  Tilapia is so mild and versatile, you can put your favorite flavor or seasoning on it and that's what it will taste like.  Before posting this, I combed the internet to find the original recipe, because I know I did not come up with it.  Here it is, a Paula Deen recipe from Food Network.  See?  Not every recipe from Paula Deen is bad for you.  This one doesn't even have butter in it!  Y'all know I love me some Paula Deen, and I've already answered the haters regarding her diabetes.

This tilapia recipe is simple.  You marinate your fillets in oil (she uses olive oil but since I am allergic to that, I just use canola), orange zest, orange juice, grated fresh ginger, tabasco sauce, salt and pepper for an hour and then grill.  I buy the bags of frozen, individually-wrapped tilapia fillets form Wegmans or Costco and they are pretty thin.  So I only need to cook them 3 minutes a side.  Paula's directions are longer but she uses thicker filets.

Tonight, I used my indoor, electric panini press/grill/griddle.  I got this for Christmas 2010 and used it only once between then and April of this year.  But in the last 2 weeks I have used it 5 times and I love it!  Anywho, since I lowered the top onto the fish, cooking it like it was in a George Foreman grill, it was done in 3 minutes flat; no need to turn over.  I've cooked it on the gas grill before, but not directly on the grate; I line the grate with foil and cook it on that.  No grill marks, but it still absorbs the grill flavor.  I've never made the Mango Coconut Rise she serves it with; just plain rice and a veg.  But I will have to try her rice over the Summer.  Enjoy!

Friday, May 11, 2012

"I Don't Know How She Does It"

I am reading the book "I Don't Know How She Does It" by Allison Pearson.  When I saw the movie trailer it looked interesting, but not enough to see it.  I am very discriminating with my movie theater dollars.  I can be with how fast movies come out on DVD.  However, there are certain types of movies you should see on the big screen to fully appreciate: Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Avengers, Transformers and the like.  There are other, infrequent occasions to see something in a theater, too.  For example, making an evening of cocktails or dinner and Sex in the City or Bridesmaids with my girlfriends; my brother offers to sit for free and there happens to be a movie playing that both the hubs and I want to see but is inappropriate for B.

But in this case, it is a book turned into a movie.  I have a love/hate relationship with this scenario.  Hate: books are always better then their movie counterparts and most are better left alone on paper instead of put on the screen.  Love: Books I've never heard of are put on my radar and, subsequently, my reading list, when I see the trailer and I have enjoyed many of them.  Anywho, I heard over and over that "I Don't Know How She Does It" was much better as a book and the movie was a disappointment.

I was surprised to discover as I started reading, that Allison Pearson is from the UK.  I don't care for British authors on the whole.  Their tone, vocabulary and sense of humor (if there is one at all) is not to my liking.  In fact, JK Rowling is the only British author I like b/c she doesn't write like a "typical" British author.  I wonder if that is b/c her target audience was children or if she "Americanized" her writing style, knowing that if the book was a hit, more copies would be sold in the US than the UK b/c, well, we have more people?  However, Ms. Pearson is quite successful in getting me to relate to her on the primal level of being a "mum".  Maybe that's b/c she isn't British; she's Welsh.  ;o)  I find her dead on with her descriptions of the main character's feelings, predicaments, guilt, responsibilities, in-laws and the shameful, ever-present battle line drawn between WOHMs (work outside of the home moms) and SAHMs (stay at home moms).

I checked the book out of the library and am wishing I owned it; it is the kind of book I want to read with a highlighter in hand.  I am having Steel Magnolias stirrings inside me from this book and I have only read the 1st two chapters!  (In case you don't understand the Steel Magnolias reference, IMO that movie is to women what The Godfather is to men.  As Tom Hanks said in You've Got Mail, "All of life's questions can be answered in The Godfather.")  Steel Magnolias is the movie I quote the most in my life and I quote a lot of movies!  Here is a highlighter-worthy excerpt from "I Don't Know How She Does It" between the main character, Kate, and her father-in-law, Donald:

"Emily, Grandpa asked you to put that down."
"No, I didn't," says Donald mildly. "I told her to put it down. That's the difference between my generation and yours, Kate: we told, you ask."

Zing!  There are paragraphs titled, MUST REMEMBER, that are simply the constant stream of thoughts going through Kate's head.  And in the middle of each one this is thrown in:

"Pelvic floor squeeeze."

LOL!  I am looking forward to reading the rest of this book.  I'll let you know what I think on the other side.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Recipe: Grilled Greek Chicken Kabobs

My friend, Julia, is a whiz on the grill and she always made delicious dishes that looked so elaborate to me.  But she shared the "secret" to her menu planning a number of years ago with all her friends: Kraft Foods.  She got their quarterly cookbooks in the mail and chose several seasonal recipes from them to add to her dinner rotation.  Luckily for me, they have a website full of these recipes.  Grilled Greek Chicken Kabobs was one she highly recommended, and it has been a staple in our house ever since.  I will use the grill no matter what the weather and this recipe does not use "seasonal" ingredients.  Chicken; yogurt (we use mayo); Greek salad dressing; red onion.  Does it get any simpler than that?

Served with rice and green beans.  I know, I know. You see A LOT of green beans in my pics.  But when the farmers markets are not open in my area, there are very few veggies we buy frozen - peas, corn and green beans.

The Ferrie Girls: Red Eye Studio QUILT giveaway!

My friend, Stephanie, over at A Houseful of Fairies and a Prince, is giving away a beautiful, homemade quilt by Heather at Red Eyed Studio LLC.  Click this link - The Ferrie Girls: Red Eye Studio QUILT giveaway! - view the quilt, learn about Heather, find out how you could win the quilt and get a coupon code good for 10% off at Heather's Etsy site.  Entries for the quilt must be received by 11:59pm EST on Thursday, May 10th and coupon code is good through 11:59pm EST Tuesday, May 15th.

Good luck!

Monday, May 7, 2012

One of the Secrets to a Successful Marriage in Our Home

Apologize.  And make sure the same person isn't always the one apologizing first.  You don't have to apologize for your opinion/belief/stance as long as you believe in your heart that you are correct.  But you do have to apologize for your tone/defensiveness/nastiness that contributed to the argument and any subsequent off-topic tangent you may have dragged into the argument.  Couples are known for not staying on topic and dragging up all kinds of supposed dead and buried issues!  LOL

Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul

I have felt like crap for a week.  Like most people around here, I seem to be developing allergies in my old age.  My nose is running like a faucet, my lungs are full of gunk that I cannot blow out my nose quick enough, I had the croup for 2 days last week and have a cough that keeps me up.  I have gotten very little sleep which has made me short-tempered and very crabby.  I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired!

I've had no energy nor desire to cook while I've been sick.  You know I have got to be pretty bad off
to not want to cook!  Cooking is my happy place, my stress reliever.  As I lay awake Friday night, I realized I needed some homemade chicken noodle soup.  In addition to tasting good, making you feel all warm and full and reminding you of your childhood sick days when mom fussed over you, chicken noodle soup really does have "magical" properties that help get you better physically.  I usually make soups from scratch, starting with homemade stock, but had none in the freezer.  *sigh*

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Math Worries

I've been struggling with B's Math curriculum the past 2 years.  I did my research in 2010 and I thought Math-U-See was the right choice for B's personality and learning styles.  He loves LEGOS and is so creative with them that I assumed Math with bricks would click.  I was wrong.  I know that multiplication is taught to 3rd graders in my county.  And, although I have heard a couple of public school parents struggle with getting their 3rd graders to understand multiplication, I was still struggling with B over addition!  How was I going to get to multiplication if I couldn't even get through addition, let alone subtraction?!

In March, I had a rare day off from work that coincided with an informal get together in my homeschooling group.  The talk of Math came up and a friend of mine spoke about where her 3rd grade daughters was.  She said that when she started homeschooling this past Fall (her daughter had been to public school for kindergarten - 2nd grade), she realized that she had to start over and reteach her daughter principals of addition and subtraction and had not yet gotten to multiplication.  That made me feel better, that B was not odd man out.  It reminded me of so many homeschool authors I'd read that talked about when the public schools say kids should be reading - kindergarten and 1st grade.  These authors, like me, struggled with their boys over reading and finally stopped.  They read to their boys, instead, and all of the boys picked up reading by choice between the ages of 7 and 9.  And that is exactly what happened with B and reading.

When I mentioned my Math worries to my brother, he asked if I'd tried flash cards b/c they were used to teach the 2 of us in school.  So, I went out and bought flash cards for addition, subtraction and multiplication.  And I have learned that B can do Math in his head and is a wiz at flash cards!  I thought he wasn't getting Math b/c he struggled with worksheets.  It's just that he isn't a worksheet and show-your-work kinda kid!  Phew!  Flash cards are so much cheaper than a Math curriculum and I can create word problems and find some freebies online.

I also got a great tip from another homeschooling mom - Timez Attack by Big Brainz.  It's a video game with timed Math problems.  B did some addition on it last week and was getting upset by the timer (too short, IMO) but still did well.  Today, I had him take the pre-test in multiplication.  Man did that upset B!  He had not even been exposed to multiplication before that.  He was stressed over the time and frustrated b/c he didn't know "anything".  Well, he got 10 out of 66 right and I know he came up with the correct answers for a few others but just didn't get them typed in fast enough.  He was not happy when I pulled out the multiplication flash cards after that experience.  So, I got a pad of paper and a pencil out and went over the easier multiplication problems with him.

  1. Any number x 0 = 0 
  2. Any number x 1 = that number
  3. Any number x 10 = that number with a 0 on the end 
  4. And to boost his confidence, I threw in any number x 100 and any number x 1,000 and he was pretty impressed with himself that he could multiply something by 1,000.  And that's exactly what I wanted - to bolster his confidence that he could do multiplication.  If I'd put the times table in front of him for memorization, he would have been lost, frustrated and given up.
  5. 1 through 9 x 11 = 1 through 9 in the tens and ones column
  6. 10 x 11 (follow the principle in #3)
  7. 11 x 11 and 11 x 12 = memorization.  These were the only 2 answers he had to memorize today so he could handle that and he remembered them!
Just using the flash cards that worked with the above 7 situations, B was able to answer 104 flashcards correctly!  The other 65 flash cards that do not fall into the above 7 situations I didn't show him.  We'll cover those another time.  He and I are just so proud that he's got over 60% of the multiplication table down in his 1st lesson!  After I put the cards away, I actually went over multiplying by 5s with him, verbally.  Even telling him some of my tricks.  For example: 8 x 5 seems daunting.  He can count by 5s eight times to get there or he can do 8 x 10 = 80 in his head quickly and then cut that in 2 to get 40 b/c 5 is half of 10.  If he can't remember what 11 x 11 is, he can do 11 x 10 = 110 in his head and then just add another 11 to that.  But I'm sure he'll work the numbers out in his head his way.  He was so proud to tell the hubs that he "...had a great 1st multiplication lesson today, Daddy!"  And I am thrilled to unlock another mystery of how his brain works.