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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, October 31, 2013

My New Guilty Pleasure

A couple of weeks ago, I started watching The Wendy Williams Show.  I'm a big Steve Harvey fan so I watch Family Feud and kept seeing commercial's for Wendy's show.  I originally decided to tune in because she was going to cover some topic on the next day's show I was interested in (although I can't remember what it was right now) and liked what I heard.

I really relate to her personality.  She's funny, if you ask her for advice she gives it to you straight, she's honest and open about her own life (wigs, plastic surgery, miscarriages, motherhood, life of a Jersey girl), she has celebrity friends in her head - we have so much in common!  And her version of Joey Tribbiani's "How you doin'?" is hilarious!

I haven't watched celebrity gossip shows like Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight since I was in college; I just haven't cared about their problems.  But now my girl Wendy fills me in each morning about what's going on with who, as well as giving her opinion about it, and it's light fun to me.

It's like sitting down with my bestie, over a cup of coffee, and catching up on people we know.  It's a nice escape from my own problems for 15 minutes each day, and I like it.  I usually just watch her "Hot Topics" segment in the beginning of the show unless she has on a guest later in the show in whom I'm interested.

So there you go - my guilty pleasure.  What's yours?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

President in a Bag - Thomas Jefferson

In September, I wrote a blog post about a wonderful teacher who came up with the President in a Bag idea and inspired us to implement that idea into our study of the American Presidents.  You can read about her here, in our first President in a Bag - George Washington.

As you can see, one of our cats wouldn't get out of the picture.  Everyone loves American History in our house!  So, here are the five items B selected to represent our 3rd president, Thomas Jefferson:

#1  A Pen.  Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence.

#2  A Wallet.  Thomas Jefferson oversaw the purchase of the Louisiana Purchase during his presidency.

#3  A Map of Virginia.  Thomas Jefferson was born in Virginia, he served as Governor of Virginia and his father, Peter Jefferson, a surveyor, helped create the 1st map of Virginia.

#4  A book.  Thomas Jefferson wanted to create a public university that was not associated with a church.  In order to fund the building of The University of Virginia, he sold his personal book collection to the Library of Congress.

#5  A Rock.  Thomas Jefferson is one of four presidents depicted on Mount Rushmore, as a memorial to his contribution to expanding the United States.

President Jefferson in a bag was pulling teeth from B.  John Adams is his favorite president (so far), so he wasn't really interested in moving onto the next one.  Although, when he was reading about Jefferson, he would call out to me facts that he found cool or amazing.  But he dragged his feet on the bag and I had to prompt him.

The hubs and I love when he presents his items to us because we are learning new facts.  B reads books about each president on his own, so we don't know everything he does.  Hopefully his lack of enthusiasm over this president won't continue through the rest...

Read about our other Presidents in a Bag in these posts:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Reader Question: "What cookbooks are in your kitchen?"

I've had a request from a reader to reveal what cookbooks I not only own but from which I actually cook.  Despite this day and age of the internet, and even the recent goldmine of Pinterest, I still have cookbooks and refuse to throw some of them out because they are invaluable to me.  I thought this was a great question, so here we go...

#1 Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, 10th Edition
This is a 1,000+ page cooking "bible".  This is a gift that our mothers and their mothers received at their bridal showers to teach them how to cook (if they did not already know).  A few years ago, we decided to add baked to our potato repertoire.  I hadn't baked a potato in I don't know how long, so I went to my BH and G book and looked up "Potato, baked p. 904".  I need to consult page 904 so frequently that I have ear-marked it.  It tells me how to bake white potatoes and sweet potatoes in the oven and in the microwave.  Since I'm getting up there in age, I cannot waste precious brain cells with memorizing these details.  That is one of the many, many reasons I keep this very valuable cooking "bible".

#2 Any and all Season's Best cookbooks from The Pampered Chef
If you've ever been to a Pampered Chef show you know about these gems.  32-page cookbooks full of great recipes for appetizers, entrees and desserts for $1! Their Chocolate Pecan Lattice Tart from the Fall/Winter 2006 edition has made every guest of mine who's tried it very happy and me very popular!  These little cookbooks also make great gifts.

#3 Southern Living Ultimate Book of Appetizers, 2001
I bough this little 48-page cook, that looks just like the paperback Pampered Chef $1 ones, from a Southern Living home show.  Does Southern Living still have a home show business?  Anywho, it's a great hostess book to have.  The most used recipe that, on it's own, has been worth the cost is the Creamy Pumpkin Dip.  Once I've served it, I get asked for the recipe and I get asked to make it again and again.

#4 The Pampered Chef All The Best
A great cookbook for entertaining or feeding your family and another great gift for the new cook.  You'll never go wrong when you entertain with Pampered Chef appetizer recipes!  This book has my popular apps - Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Tomato Basil Squares, Tex Mex Chicken Melts and more.  Plus lots of good for the soul dinners and desserts.  No one gives you better wreath-shaped, filled crescent roll dinner ideas than The Pampered Chef.

#5 The Pampered Chef 29 Minutes to Dinner
This is a great cookbook for us busy moms who don't want to or can't spend a lot of time in the kitchen every day.  There are 4 sections - poultry; fish and seafood; beef and pork; meatless.  Some of their recipes that have become staples in our dinner rotation are: Lightening Fast Veggie Chili, Brown Butter Tortellini with Spinach and Ham, Tex Mex Chicken and Rice Skillet and Sun Chip Chicken (B's all-time favorite dinner).

#6 and #7 The Pioneer Woman's first 2 Cookbooks 
Ree Drummond and I are kindred spirits; we have so much in common!  We're both redheads; married to hot, strong, humble men; love to cook; have our awkward moments; homeschool; love to see the beauty in nature; make lots of money blogging for our millions of readers...OK, maybe not that last one.  ;o)  But we love a lot of the same foods and both the hubs and I use her cookbooks.  Her Restaurant-Style Salsa and Pico de Gallo are staple condiments in our house now.

#8  and #9 Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
Now, I don't own these books, although they've been on my Christmas list for 2 years now.  But I check them out from the library frequently because Dr. Hertzberg and Ms. Francois have finally gotten me to love baking my own bread.  These books are very popular in my county's library system because I have to return them due to others' requests.  But I just get myself back on the waiting list and check them out again when it's my turn.

I do have other cookbooks on the shelves that I use infrequently or not at all (in fact, the hubs has asked me to please cull through the cookbooks) but these are the ones out of which I get a lot of use.

Thank you for your question, reader; this was fun!  If you have a question or a topic you'd like to hear my opinion on, email me at youmeandb1@gmail.com or post it to my Facebopk page, whichever you feel more comfortable doing, and maybe I'll feature it here.  :o)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Waiting On A Tow Truck

For the last 2 years, I feel I've spent more time waiting on tow trucks than I have on lesson planning.  Thank goodness we have wonderful car insurance that offers us a free tow per incident instead of limiting us to a certain number per year because we've had incident after incident with our 2 cars!

We finally had to say goodbye to my favorite car I've ever owned in the beginning of the year.  I loved my wagon!  Bluey was 3 when we bought her.  We had 9 wonderful years together and then 2 years of towing.  The hubs and 2 friends even replaced the transmission in the wagon 4 years ago, she was that important and beloved to us.  She was the only car in which B remembered riding.  But we had to let her go.  She was spending more time out of commission than in drivable condition, but it was still hard for me to let her go.  *sniff, sniff* 

Thankfully, my parents let us borrow one of their cars in the Spring because they had a houseguest who brought 2 cars of his own into their driveway.  Well, that houseguest is still there since the necessary remodel of his home is taking longer than expected.  But, thankfully, it's allowed us to have 2 cars.

Except when Hagrid, the truck we own, is being towed.  *sigh*  He's waiting outside for the tow truck to come get him.  But what Hagrid does not know, is that he is being towed away for the last time.  I'm done.  I'm done with holding my breath every time I turn the key to start a car, wondering if our plans for the day will get cancelled or if I'll get stuck somewhere and have to call my neighbor to come get us.

So, now we have 1 borrowed car from my parents, 3 bicycles and 6 feet.  :o)  And so begins the search for another used, cheap, reliable port-a-bomb for my family.

There goes Hagrid and Hootenanny in the oven.
While we waited for the tow truck to arrive this morning, I asked B what he wanted for breakfast.  "Pancakes!" was his response.  *sigh*  I really dislike making pancakes and vowed to never do it again once I found the Hootenanny recipe.  So I told him I'd make Hootenanny, which made him start singing our Hootenanny song, and I went to the kitchen to mix it up.

Only there was a problem.  There was no all-purpose flour in the pantry.  I dug through the pantry and found only whole wheat flour, rye flour and bread flour.  I went downstairs and searched the extra pantry shelves and found only self-rising flour.  Crazy!  Since it was in the low 40s and I was waiting on a tow truck, riding my bike to the store was not an option.  Back to the pantries I went.  I finally found all-purose flour hiding under egg noodles in the basement.  Phew!

B gets overly attached to everything, so the Hootenanny cheered him up after saying goodbye to Hagrid.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Using My Dad's Favorite Childhood Books in Our American History Lessons

My parents, like most parents I'm sure, were hesitant and worried when we announced we were pulling their only grandchild out of public school to homeschool.  But after seeing the positive changes in B's stress level and personality, hearing him share what he learns and even teaching him some lessons themselves, they are our biggest supporters.  Every June, my dad asks for my school supply wish list and provides us with what we need.

This past June, I told my parents we were going to take a break from world History and start on American History.  To my surprise, when dad dropped off our requested school supplies there was also a box with the above pictured books in it.  Twenty-six books (there are only 25 in the picture because we are currently reading about The Swamp Fox, Francis Marion) from the Childhoods of Famous Americans Series.  My dad's books were published in the 1940s.

These books were and still are very precious to my dad.  He loved reading them when he was a child.  My Nana had even written in some of them the dates on which the books were given - birthdays and Christmases starting in 1956.  He lectured both me and B about being careful with them, not drawing in them nor bending the pages.  I'm so grateful he has shared these with us!

The ones we have range in time from James Oglethorpe through John F. Kennedy.  They narrate the childhoods of these men for most of the book and then at the end explain what they accomplished as adults.

The illustrations inside are simple, yet beautiful.  Look at the book, on the right, closed.  The pages are all different widths and uneven, a testament to their age.  :o)

I love books, love the smell of them, the feel of them.  These books are such a blessing and we are reading them when the subject of the book fits into the time period of American History we are covering.

Monday, October 21, 2013

What I Dislike About Homeschooling

After completing my July 2012 series, 31 Reasons The Hubs and I Have Lasted 17 Years, I received comments on Facebook and in person about doing others.  I immediately thought about doing one about the downside of homeschooling.  A tongue-in-cheek list of the negatives, because our family, our relationships and our lives have only gotten better with homeschooling.  But I was confident that I could come up with at least 10 "bad" things about homeschooling.

I came up with one right away.  Well here we are, 14+ months later, and I've not been able to come up with 9 other negatives about homeschooling!  I've only come up with 1 more.  So, I've given up of on the series idea.  I've let go of trying to find 10 "bad" things about homeschooling.  I think it's wonderful that after 14 months, I could only come up with 2!  Here we go...

#1.  I had to break up with my vibrator.  
B and I are together all the time.  All.  The.  Time.  We don't have to be in the same room or on the same floor at all times, but we are in the house together.  When B was in public school, even half-day kindergarten, I at least had time alone in the house to be with myself.  Not since we started homeschooling!  He stopped taking naps years ago, so that window of opportunity is shut for good.

And believe me, I've tried.  I know what you're thinking -  I'm a horrible, disgusting, slutty mom for trying to use her vibrator with a conscious kid in the house.  No, I'm a homeschool mom who applies learning to everything I do and I did a Science experiment.  I proposed a hypothesis to myself - B will not hear my vibrator under the covers, in my bedroom, behind the closed door, while he is watching TV downstairs with snacks he rarely gets.  Then I tested my hypothesis by doing an experiment.  Finally, I analyzed the data I had gathered during my experiment and came to the conclusion that I had to break up with my vibrator.

I must have been a little too eager to get upstairs.  Or maybe he was (rightly) suspicious of me allowing him to watch something I'd never allowed to be viewed in our house before and the free reign I gave him with the Halloween candy while he watched the show.  Regardless, he came knocking and, upon discovering the bedroom door was locked, he was not going away.  The mood was ruined for me and I've never tried again.  *sigh*

#2.  I can't purge his toys without getting caught.
When he was in preschool and then public school, I had time without B to cull through the toy bins and get rid of the items that were broken or hadn't been played with or even remembered existed in several months.  I'd separate out the items to go and clean and bag them up while he was a school.  Even if he came home before all the Freecyclers had picked up the toys I was getting rid of, B didn't know what was in the bags!  If he asked, I just told him, "stuff for Freecycle", and he let it drop.

The next time he'd go to the toys bins, he knew something was different, something wasn't quite right; he just couldn't put his finger on it...   Ahhh...the good 'ole days.

Now I have to put up with, "Hey! I've been looking for that forever!" and "But that's my favorite toy!" and "I'm going to start playing with it again right now."  Don't get me wrong, the stuff still goes.  I just no longer get the peaceful satisfaction of decluttering with no one being the wiser.  I got a sick amusement from pulling one over on him.  If my 23 yr old self could see what I got excited about now...  :-P

Friday, October 18, 2013

Why do we call the reproductive talk with our kids "the birds and the bees"?

Mom, why is it called "the birds and the bees"?  This question came at 11:05am today while B was emptying the dishwasher.  Good question!  Looking to animals to explain our bodies is a frequently used concept.  For example, the book Everyone Poops.  But why birds and bees for reproduction?  Off to the internet I went and found the answer to his question.

Birds laying eggs = females releasing eggs.  Bees transport pollen from flower to flower = males releasing sperm to fertilize eggs.  Makes complete sense!  If I had actually taken a few minutes to think about it before looking it up, I might have made the connection myself.  Then again, I might have gotten distracted by the 20+ other things on my mind.

Anywho, I answered B's question and can honestly tell the hubs when he comes home that, "Yes, lessons took place today."  ;o)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Hubs Isn't Perfect, You Know

I say that, because a lot of women have told me that they think he is the "ideal man".  He cooks, declutters, cleans, does the laundry, thoroughly enjoy being involved in our son's life, doesn't "babysit" his own child, is strong and protective when it's warranted, is handsome and sexy, makes me laugh everyday and can make my entire body tingle with the slightest touch.

But he definitely isn't perfect.  Just like any partner does, he knows how to push my buttons and can annoy the hell out of me.  I'm all about disclosure and am honest with y'all about me and my imperfections, so I've gotten the hubs' permission to share some of his.

Here are 5 imperfect things about the hubs I don't like:

  1. He has these black and white rules of life that make no sense and drive me insane. For example, it's fine to eat breakfast foods at dinner but me eating dinner foods for breakfast is a crime against nature in his book.  Seriously, there are much more important things in this world to worry about.
  2. For being such a neat freak, cleaner and silent hater of how messy I keep this place, he leaves his dirty socks all over the house.  Sometimes, a sock will be on a different floor than it's mate because they were removed hours apart!  Once they leave his feet, they are invisible to him.  I've even fought the urge to pick them up to see how long he'd go before doing it himself.  Two weeks.  And only then did he pick them up because he was completely out of socks.
  3. Most of the time he won't turn the TV off.  He will be the only one watching the TV yet when he exits the room for good, he leaves it on.  ERR!  Such a waste of electricity and added noise pollution I don't need with B reciting lines from songs or movies over and over and over...
  4. He constantly tries to regulate my body temperature for me.  He's very observant.  He notices when I get up to put on a sweater, socks and/or slippers (because I'm cold) or when I change out of long clothes and put on shorter ones (because I'm hot).  As soon as I make a move like that, he goes to the thermostat and adjusts it.  If I put on more layers, he turns the heat up; if I change into cooler clothes he turns the A/C down.  I know what y'all are thinking - "That's so considerate!" or "I wish my husband paid attention to me like that."  No, it's not!  I have been asking him, telling him, begging him for 65 years (that's how long he said he's been married to me today) to stop.  You know why?  Because 10 minutes after I put that sweater on, I'm roasting.  Ten minutes after going upstairs, finding a cooler outfit, changing into it and coming back downstairs, I am freezing.  I am back in the same predicament, uncomfortable temperature-wise, just at the opposite end of the thermostat now.  *sigh*
  5. No matter how many times I ask him to, he does not turn down the volume on the TV or computer before turning them off.  So when he comes downstairs at 5:30am and decides to update his timecard before going to work, I am jerked awake by the loud "BWOOOOONG" the computer makes as it boots up (do they still call turning on a computer "booting up"?  I'm dating myself here...)  On the rare occasion he does turns off the TV, it's always at night and the volume is left pretty high because he was cooking in the kitchen and wanted to hear the game on the TV in the family room.  If I get up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep or I get up with the hubs and B is still asleep, I'll turn the TV on to watch the news or a DVR'd show I can't watch with B around.  I don't know about y'all's TVs, but when we turn ours on, the volume and mute buttons are not activated until 11.25 seconds after the TV has been turned on.  Those seconds might as well be minutes and by the time I've launched the remote across the room at the power button on the TV, B has been startled awake and is screaming because he thinks were under attack.
So there you go; the hubs is human, after all.  And please know, these five are not the only things that bother me about him, but these are the major offensives in my book.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I didn't want to go to Bunco tonight.

I didn't want to go to Bunco tonight.  The hubs and I have not been gellin',parenting-wise 4 days in a row, we were out all day doing errands, I am not feeling well and not sleeping well.  Basically I was a tired whiner with my cranky pants on today.

While my family was good enough to be "blessed" with my disposition, I didn't feel the Bunco group deserved to have it.  But pulling out 1.5 hours before it was to start was not cool.

I knew my friend who was hosting would serve a wonderful dinner, because she always does.  I sucked it up and headed out the door and the hubs could not get the door closed behind me fast enough (who could blame him?).

Dinner was wonderful.  It was Fallish and plentiful and warmed me from the inside out.  The house was decorated for the season by her adorable son.  I laughed and laughed.  I hugged my friend whom I had not seen in a while.  I came away with 2.5 times more money than I had paid into the pot.  I'm so glad I went!

This happens to me a lot, when I have plans to leave the house solo.  I am an introvert.  I get my energy from being alone, not from other people.  I don't like to be social.  Becoming a mom forced me out of my shell because if you don't speak up, reach out, connect with and talk to other moms, you will go insane!  But we are well beyond the playgroups of baby-, toddler- and preschool-hood.  B has his own friends and they can get together without every mom being present in the room all the time.

So I just want to crawl back into my shell and be content.  But I can't be, really.  I like friends, I need friends and I know I won't have any unless I cultivate the relationships.  I agonize and worry over most social gatherings but after they are over, I feel the same - glad I did it.  Going out of the house is like exercising or going to church; I don't want to do it, don't want to put in the effort, but when I do, I'm so glad I did!  Probably not as glad as the hubs was tonight, though.  ;o)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I'm Sad Suburgatory Did Not Return This Fall to ABC

Did y'all watch the ABC show Suburgatory?  I did, for many reasons.  It was downright funny.  Like, Modern Family funny.  It poked fun at the Stepford-like communities.  The Washington, D.C. area has some of those, but we can't be the only ones, since Suburgatory writers depicted them so well.  Ana Gasteyer's character was one I loved to hate one minute and felt sympathy for the next.  But it also tackled some serious issues, showed us the perspective of both the parents and the kids and gave me welcomed advice and insight into the teenage years that I am dreading.

Kids need to know, believe, that even if, when, they shout, "I HATE YOU!" at us (after we've disciplined them/told them no, etc.), that it won't change the way we feel about them.  We're still here. We're not going anywhere and we won't send them away, either.  We still knock on their slammed bedroom doors that night and let them know dinner is ready, even if they choose not to join us.  They need to know that whatever goes wrong in this world, in this house or inside themselves, we've got their backs!

The season one finale is saved on my DVR.  The words at the end of that show are so powerful, I wanted to keep them; to replay them when I find myself in that place.  The voiceover from Tessa, the teenaged main character, said, "The parent/child relationship is a strange one.  You grow up thinking they're super heroes who can do no wrong.  But then one day the cape comes off, and you see them for who they really are.  And if you don't like what you see, tough luck; you're stuck together.  Why?  Because you're family."

Those words are "bruteful", as Glennon at Momastery.com says.  It's a major turning point in our parent/child relationship.  It will happen.  And what happens next will depend on how we, as parents, have chosen to interact with our children up to that point.  Were we parents, disciplinarians, admitting our humanness/our own mistakes openly, setting the best example, apologizing or not apologizing when necessary, calling them on their shit and ensuring they towed the line with manners, respect, truthfulness, gratefulness, and service to others?  Or were we more concerned with appearing cool, being their friend or giving them whatever they wanted to distract them so we could pursue our own interests, uninterrupted?

Being a parent is the hardest job ever.  We are forming human beings from scratch and, eventually, unleashing them onto the world to not only make their way of it successfully, but also to ensure no need for them to come back and be supported by us.  They need to know we are here for them - to cry to, to get advice from, to be proud of them - but the goal is to set them free and marvel how they decide to fly.  And then have a new stage of our relationship - one of equality, respect and acceptance of our lifestyles.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Kids Halloween Party

B has always wanted to throw a costumed Halloween party so we finally did it this year.  I don't know who had more fun - me planning, buying and creating for the party or the kids at the party.  :o)  When we got down to the wire, the hubs and I were pretty frantic right before the party started.  Thank goodness my BFF showed up to finish the cupcakes for me and one of the moms stayed during the party to take pictures.  I ran up for a shower 10 minutes before the party started!

The first thing I did was create a Halloween Party Ideas board on Pinterest.  I definitely did not use all the ideas that I pinned but if I did not have them all in a central location, I'd never remember them.  Although we purchased so many party items from our local Dollar Tree, the gas used during the repeated trips up there probably negated the fact that everything was $1.  LOL

I downloaded and printed the skull and candy corn invitations from Do It Yourself Invitations.  I would have preferred an invitation that was spookier or at least was mostly black and orange, but B liked this one the best, so we went with it.  I printed them on card stock, put them in manila envelopes that B decorated with spiders, ghosts, etc. and we hand-delivered them.  In addition to day, time and RSVP info, I put this on the cards:

We're having a party! We hope you can come.
Get dressed in your costume. We'll have lots of fun!
The party was in between lunch and dinner, so I only provided a few snacks and cupcakes.  B wrapped mason jars with white crepe paper and added google eyes for mummy glasses, writing each guest's name on the back.  I cut up carrots, red pepper and broccoli and served it with my go-to dip: bottled ranch dressing, a minced clove or 2 of garlic and dried dill weed.  Make it at least a couple of hours before serving to get the flavors to meld.  I also made Money Saving Mom's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (a fav in our house) and witch's brooms made out of pretzel sticks and cheese sticks I cut into fringe.

I made Joy the Baker's Brownie Bottom Ice Cream Cupcakes with cookies n cream ice cream and topped them with a dollop of buttercream icing instead of whipped cream.  I needed something more solid to hold the cupcake topper, The Partiologist's Stained Glass Pumpkins.  While I showered, my BFF made the pumpkins.

For the goodie bags, I was proactive and went to Walmart last month to take advantage of the back to school sales. I bought each child a box of colored pencils, a box of crayons and split 2 boxes of 20 pencils each among the 8 guests - all that cost $1 per child.  I know all the children had just bought supplies for school, but all those supplies were taken to school; these goodie bag items were for use at home.  I had originally planned to use a pack of goodie bags I bought at a yard sale for $0.50, but I could not fit the Honeycrisp Apples in them, so I got cute jack-o-lantern bags from Walmart for $0.97 each.  B filled the goodie bags and made tags for them with each guest's name.

Now onto the activities.  We checked Halloween CDs out of the library and had music playing when the guests arrived.  B held a Monster Mash dance party in the front room until everyone had arrived.  Then I had all the kids sit down for the mummy game.  I bought a bag each of Halloween erasers, vampire teeth, glow-in-the-dark snakes and bugs at the Dollar Tree and wrapped them up inside 3 or 4 rolls of white crepe paper.  I worked on that for 2 hours, while watching TV, the night before the party.  Sometimes there was only 1 foot of crepe paper between doodads and sometimes there was 5 feet between them.  Each child took a turn unrolling the crepe paper until they got a doodad, ripped off the crepe paper they'd unwound and wrapped it around themselves.  Then they passed the ball to the next child.  You can see B, above, with paper wrapped around his head and in his mouth are a pair of vampire teeth.  He had gotten sweaty in his Angry Birds costume while dancing, so I made him take it off to cool down.  Each child collected 4 or 5 doodads and then we put them in their goodie bags for safe keeping (that's why B labeled each bag with a name).

By the time the mummy game was over, Miss Lyn and Francesca, our face painter and balloon artists, had arrived and set up.  The kids were not interested in face paintings to begin with but they were enamored with the wonderful balloon creations the ladies made!  Snakes, horses, light sabers, a green pig to go with B's Angry Birds costume, an octopus and many more.  Anything the kids asked for, they could make.  Below you can see B's face painting - very sinister looking and exactly what B asked her to do - and holding his Angry Bird pig while in costume.

Once everyone received a balloon creation, I herded the kids outside to decorate pumpkins while they took turns getting face paintings.  I bought 3 packages of 6 jars of paint, some brushes and 2 packages of glitter glue pens at the Dollar Tree and small pumpkins from a local farm.  The kids had a great time painting Count Pumpcula, Darth Vader, a Mincecraft Creeper, a fiery graveyard of zombies and more on their gourds.

Some of the kids finished their pumpkin painting early and we had a pumpkin roll game.  Two opponents had to roll their pumpkin across the yard using a broom.  It proved pretty difficult for all the kids except one - he dominated this game.  It didn't matter which pumpkin nor which broom he used, he just flew down the yard!

Once the pumpkin and face paintings were all done, I handed out cupcakes and we all went outside to eat them.  Then we all went back inside to wash up.  B had requested that his guests bring their scooters and helmets to the party, so after washing up, we all went into the alley out back and scooted some of that sugar off.  I had let all the parents know that we would be in the alley at the end of the party so they should come around back to pick up their kids.

Everyone had a great time and I'm so glad we did this!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

President in a Bag - John Adams

Last month, I wrote a blog post about a wonderful teacher who came up with the President in a Bag idea and inspired us to implement that idea into our study of the American Presidents.  You can read about her here, in our first President in a Bag - George Washington.

Yesterday, B finally finished his second President in a Bag - John Adams.  He has had the 1st 2 items for 2 weeks but could not decide on the last 3 until yesterday.  So, here are the items that B has chosen to describe John Adams' life:

  1. The $2 bill.  John Adams was the first vice president of the United States of America, making him the 2nd man in charge.  He was our 2nd president.  He is pictured on the back of the $2 bill in the depiction of John Trumbull's painting "Declaration of Independence".
  2. The peace symbol.  Although it cost him reelection, John Adams refused to go to war with France during his presidency, instead choosing peace.  He decided to do what was right instead of what was popular.  Something we discussed that was lacking in a lot of current politicians.
  3. A pen.  The colonists were quite angry about the taxes that the English king assessed upon them. Instead of participating in the violent protests, John Adams chose to write articles in the newspapers.
  4. A library card.  The Library of Congress was established under John Adams' presidency.
  5. A garden trowel.  After his presidency, John Adams retired to farming, fulfilling his desire to follow in his father's footsteps.
Read about our other Presidents in a Bag:

Breakfast Cooking Lesson for B

B gets up before me and makes himself a bowl of cereal in the morning.  Then when I get up, he's ready for some protein to give him go power.  I wasn't making a big breakfast for myself today, I only had a hard boiled egg, but B still wanted a big breakfast.  So, I decided it was time he expanded his breakfast repertoire.

I decided cooking one item in a pan was enough, so I had him do the turkey bacon in the microwave.  He got a paper plate, lined it with towels, added 3 pieces of bacon and covered with more towels.  He read the directions on the bacon packaging - 1 to 1.5 minutes for 2 slices and 1.5 to 2 minutes for 4 slices - and he decided 1.5 minutes wold be good for his 3 slices.  He was right because the bacon turned out exactly how he liked it and he was happy.

While the bacon was cooking, B got out the toaster and sat a slice of Wegmans Honey Apple Oat Bread (delicious!) in it but did not start toasting.  He cracked an egg into a bowl, added 1 tsp of water, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper and beat that all together.  He broke half a slice of American cheese up into small pieces, turned the heat on under our wok and added a little pat of butter.

My boy scrambled those eggs like a champ, turned the heat off before they were done cooking because we like our eggs a little wet, and mixed in his cheese bits.  He pushed the toast down to brown and then plated the bacon and eggs.  I buttered his toast because we didn't have any softened this morning, but he has been buttering and jellying his toast for a few years already.

He said this morning's breakfast was "..the best EVER!" because he made it himself.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

My Sweet Husband

This is our coffee machine.  Taped to it and over it are 2 notes; notes that I wrote to the hubs.  Usually, I stay up later than him and he gets up before me, so if there's something I need him to know before he goes to work, I write him a note and stick it where I know he'll see it.  It's not always by the coffee maker.  Sometimes it's stuck to something in the fridge, on another cabinet or even on the doorknob of the door through which he'll leave.

For example, the note on the coffee machine was stuck on a bottle of creamer in the fridge that was just about empty, and the note advised there was another bottle in the extra fridge.  He's not real good about checking the extra fridge or the pantry  shelves in the basement to see if we have replacements when something runs out.  So I left him a reminder.  I'm not writing poetry or leaving steamy love notes, but I do end them all with "I love you!!" and I put a smile under the two exclamation points.

The thing is, he never takes them down!  After the notes have been hanging around for a week or two, I rip them down in frustration and toss them into the recycle bin.  I steam over his laziness for not removing them himself.  A note hanging in the kitchen, either one I've written for him or myself, is important.  I want them to catch someone's attention.  However, if there are notes hanging off all the cabinets, then none of them would catch my attention.

The blue note, above, was placed on an item in the fridge at least a month and a half ago.  After reading it, the hubs moved it to the coffee machine.  The pink note was written last week and remains where I stuck it.

Friday afternoon I asked him (in a huffy manner), "How come you never throw out the notes?!"  He looked over at them, smiled nostalgically at them and then looked at me.  There was so much love and tenderness in his face and he just smiled at me for about 10 seconds.  Finally he said, "Just 'cause," kissed me on the forehead and walked away.

It finally dawned on me - their like souvenirs or mementos to him.  I found him and asked him, "Am I not telling you that I love you frequently enough?  Do I not say enough nice things to you?  Is that why you need to keep them?"  I was worried and wanted him to let me know if he needed something from me.  "Nope," he replied.  They're just his love letters and likes to see them everyday.