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?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Egg Decoration with Craft Club


Last week I hosted March's Craft Club and we did Easter egg decoration.  We had so much fun!  We had some younger sibling present, so the kids ranged from 4 yrs - 10 yrs.  After decorating eggs as characters, I don't think I can go back to just plain 'ole egg dying.  However, B says that his favorite egg was the Smiley Face, where he could just free draw on the egg.  So, I'll have to wait and see what he's in the mood to do next year.

There were four kinds of eggs that the kids created:

I hope you and your family have as much fun as we did decorating eggs this year.  And I'd love to hear about or see your pix, too!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Romantic Date With A Purpose Courtesy of Our 10 Year Old

Monday afternoon, I was on the phone with my brother.  I told him that our church sponsors a Date with a Purpose several months each year and the hubs and I had not been to one in probably a year.  I want to go to next month's and asked if he would watch B while the hubs and I went out.  When I got off the phone, I found the set table in the picture to the left.  That table is currently B's coloring/LEGO building/cars racing/lapbook creating/meal taking/action figure stage table, and when I got on the phone, it was covered with books, crayons, action figures, LEGOs and crumbs.

"What is this?" I asked B.  "It's a romantic, date-with-a-purpose dinner for you and Daddy tonight," he replied, with a big smile.  I just wrapped that sweet boy up into my arms, hugged him and tried, unsuccessfully, not to cry.  When I knew I could speak, I asked, "And where will you be while Daddy and I are having this romantic, date-with-a-pupose?"  "Eating in the kitchen.  And I won't say a word," he promised.

We not only had a romantic, date-with-a-purpose dinner with just the two of us at the table, we had dinner and a show.  B kindly selected the oh-so-romantic movie, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.  LOL!  It was perfect!  The candle on the table was lit, the hubs and I held hands while we ate dinner and all but two Jedis were wiped off the face of the galaxy.  It's OK, though; The One Who Will Bring Balance to The Force was born in the end.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming, A Christmas Story" by Lemony Snicket

Until yesterday, I had never read a Lemony Snicket book.  Do you read any of his books to your children or do your children read them?  After B's gymnastics class yesterday afternoon, we stopped at the library to pick up a book I had placed on hold.  B wanted to peruse the children's section, so we headed over there.  I found this book, The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming, A Christmas Story, on display and decided to check it out - it was short, I was intrigued and B kept laughing over his own attempts to pronounce the word "latke".  I read it as soon as we got home and we were both laughing hysterically!  Fun way for children to learn about Hanukkah and why it's celebrated.  I recommend you check it out!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Hi, I'm Jess, and I'm an e-Book Downloading Addict

That's me!  I am addicted to downloading free e-books, mostly from Amazon.  Notice I didn't say reading free e-books, but downloading them.  I have downloaded 134 books and haven't read a single one!  I have read approx 20 pages of one book, but that's it.  After downloaded another book today, I opened up the Kindle application on my computer (I don't have a Kindle and truly appreciate that Kindle lets people like me have access to their application) to peruse my books and I was reminded, again, why I don't read any of my books - I'm overwhelmed.

I get overwhelmed quite easily and, because of that, I am not a good multi-tasker.  The only time I multi-task is when I'm on the computer and listening to the TV at the same time or cooking dinner (an entree and a side or two at the same time).  This long list of of books, with varying topics, leave me overwhelmed and after a couple of scrolls down, I inevitably close out the application.  But today, I noticed the word "Collections" on the left-hand side and clicked on the +.  Ta-da!  Lists!  I can organize my e-books into like files, making it less overwhelming for me.  Now, instead of scrolling through 134 books which can only be sorted by title, author or recently viewed, I can look at my 16 Collections, which only take up half of the main page!  Woohoo!  Much easier to go right to the subject I'm interested in to select a book.  :o)

In case you're interested, my Collections are History/Social Studies; Recipes; Health; Animals; Religious; Fun; Fiction; Non-Fiction for The Hubs & Me; Non-Fiction for B; Business; Money-Saving; Homeschool; For the Home; Math; Gardening; Language Arts.

Friday, March 22, 2013

DIY Ziploc Perfect Portions Bag

Have you seen or do you use Ziploc Perfect Portions?  Brilliant!  I must admit that when I saw the commercial for the first time, I did a "Doh!" face palm.  So simple, yet so needed, why didn't I ever think of that?  Oh, well, no matter.  They came up with the idea, I do it cheaper.  :o)  Very simple to do yourself with plastic wrap.

I made a white chili the other day with chicken thighs and needed to freeze the rest of the package.  I ripped off about 1 square foot of plastic wrap, covered my hand with it, picked up a chicken thigh, used my other hand to wrap the plastic completely around the piece of meat and put it in a freezer bag.  Voila!

According to Ziploc's website today, you can buy a 75 count box of their Perfect Portions at Target for $3.07 ($0.04/ea) or at Amazon for $4.74 ($0.06/ea).  I don't know what my 3,000 sq ft container of Kirkland plastic wrap from Costco cost me because I got it a while ago.  However, Amazon is selling it today for $25.34.  That's only $0.008/sq ft!  Even if I bought the 100 sq ft package at Wegmans grocery store for $1.99, that's still only $0.02/sq ft!  And plastic wrap is something most of have on hand already.  Thank you, Ziploc, for your inspiration!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Kegels

Before I get to my topic, I want to say that I just discovered the Search function on my blog is not working!  Although it has inconvenienced me with looking for specific posts and topics on my blog, I'm more upset that y'all are unable to search for things.  What if you need to know how I make my butternut squash and chicken lasagnahow the hubs and I have stayed together for 17+ years or you want to reread about the morning I was awoken by my 5 year old with the words, "Mama, my balls are gone."?!  I want you all to know that I am aware of the situation and will do my best to rectify it!  Now, onto tonight's topic...

Kegels.  I don't do them.  Do you?  The reason I don't do them is because they make me feel ookie, plain and simple.  I don't like the ookie feeling, that's why I go to another floor when one of my cats is coughing up a hairball, I can't look at pictures/videos of snakes and I don't do kegels.  A friend of mine who is very fit and exercises regularly says, "It's just an exercise like any other exercise." But it's not.  No other exercise involves me willfully, voluntarily contracting my vajayjay.  There is absolutely nothing ookie to me about my vajayjay contracting of its own accord due to certain...ah...outside stimuli, but the kegel is ookie.

A friend of mine and I took our children to a jumping place last week and we were discussing the fact that we would not fare as well as the children because neither one of us do our required kegels.  She suggested that we should do them with some regularity, like pick a time each day or do them during an everyday occurrence.  I suggested each time we were at a red light, we should kegel.  We laughed and I promptly forgot all about kegels.

This evening, while the hubs was putting B down, I was folding laundry and, for some reason, kegels popped into my head.  OK, I thought, you really need to start doing these things and now's as good a time as any.  But you know what?  I could not kegel!  My brain was sending the message down there but down there was all, "Huh?  What? I have no idea what that even is, but it sounds ookie!"  WTH?!  Just 2 years ago, I was desperately kegelling my little heart out during jumping jacks in kickboxing class!  I had to sit down and not on the bed, on a more firm surface.  I went downstairs, sat in the desk chair and tried again.  Phew!  I. CAN. KEGEL!  Then the relief turned to anger.  Why can't I do them standing up?  I think my body was just being stubborn and decided to teach me a lesson, send me a wakeup call.  You know how some people go the hospital, believing they are having a heart attack and making all kinds of deals with their god that if they just survive this they will start eating healthy and exercising, for real, and then they find out it was just heartburn or gas?  I think that is what my pelvic wall did to me tonight.  "Muscles, babe.  Use them or lose them.  You've been warned," my pelvic wall said to me while shaking its finger.

Message received.  I think I've done at least a week's worth of kegels while typing this up!  So the next time you see me at a red light, don't be insulted if I don't wave back.  I'm just concentrating on my workout.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Frugal Fun - Family Room Fort

How did the title roll of your mind's tongue?  After I typed it, I asked B to read it and tell me what was unique about it.  "It's not rhyming; that's words that end with the same sound," he said.  "These words begin with the same sound.  I know this!  What. Is. It. Called?!  It was even covered in Life of Fred, Mom."  Well, that was good enough for me, that he recognized what I had done and I reminded him it's alliteration.  Nows he mumbling, "Alliteration, alliteration, alliteration," while he sketches in his book so he'll get the term down.  OK, English lesson over, now onto my post...

B is growing up just like I did - raised by parents who do not buy him a lot of things nor take him out frequently to "fun" places with admission prices.  And as happens over and over again since I became a parent, I finally understand what I put my parents through and see things from their perspective, now my perspective.  We don't try to keep up with the Jones because we can't.  The hubs make a modest salary and I do not work outside of the home because we're homeschooling.  We have to be very selective with our dollars and no child gives a rat's ass about that.  LOL  But what we do give B, and what my parents gave my brother and me, is time, attention, memories.  We get creative with what we have and we have so much fun.

One weekend last month, the weather was not good for playing outside and B wanted to, "...go somewhere, do something..."  A movie, a bounce house, laser tag, an amusement park were all things on his list.  *sigh*  The hubs took B to the living room in the front of the house to talk, watch the birds and wrestle.  I decided to get busy in the family room in the back of the house.  By saying "front of the house" and "back of the house", I make our house sound like it's either large or a restaurant.  But our house is actually small, cozy, full of love and there is only 5' 8" of hallway from the living room to the family room.  However, the hubs was able to keep B distracted enough to not pay attention to what I was doing.  It must have been the weekend either before or after the latest Die Hard movie opened in theaters, because B was going on and on about wanting to go see it and cable stations was running marathons of the previous 4 Die Hard movies.  B can take some violent movies but not others, and we weren't going to spend precious movie dollars on this movie and have to get up and leave.  At home we can just turn the channel or stop the Netflix DVD if something is too much for him.

So what I did was build a fort in our family room.  As you can see, it took up almost the entirety of our little family room (I was on the computer desk, taking this pic) and there's BeyoncĂ©, on the far right, reigning over the kitchen.  We popped popcorn (the old-fashioned way - on the stove, in one of our pots, with kernels bought in a bag at the store), watched the 1st 3 Die Hard movies (with breaks for more talks, laughs and wrestling), the hubs made cheeseburgers for dinner, I made Shamrock Shakes and we had to rebuild the fort at least a half dozen times because the cats kept jumping onto the top, which then pulled the chairs over onto us.  For that reason, we scrapped our sleepover plans in the fort and had a sleepover in our bedroom, instead.  When tucking B in that night, he declared, "This was the best. Saturday. EVER."  Memories.  And they didn't cost us a dime.  :oD


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

B Makes Pancakes By Himself

  This morning B asked me, "Can you make pancakes for breakfast?" To which I responded, "No."  I am not a pancake fan, it's labor intensive and most of the batter goes to waste.  "Can I make pancakes then?" he asked.  "Sure."  He's cooked before, including pancakes, but I've been by his side, guiding, suggesting, pouring the heavy liquids.  This time I stayed out of it unless he asked me a question and I, of course, turned on the stove.  It was hard for me to let him do it all by himself.  I told y'all how I've struggled with the hubs doing things his way in my series last July - 31 Reasons The Hubs and I Have Lasted 17 Years.  #17: Just because it isn't done my way doesn't mean it's done wrong, was my mantra this morning as B made his breakfast.  I am a "destination" person when it comes to tasks and B, like the hubs, is a "journey" person.  Right off the bat, though, he totally made me proud and proved he is the son of a chef by starting out with mis en place.  It means "everything in place" and in the kitchen, it refers to ensuring you have everything you need and ready to go before you start cooking.  Halfway through mixing his batter, he decided to add Nutella to his pancakes, too.


I made a notation in the cookbook with the pancake recipe to use less milk than it called for because they are too runny and flat.  B told me he forgot to use less milk, but they still tasted good.  Lesson learned for next time.  He was proud of himself when it was all done and these were the best tasting pancakes ever because he had made them himself. Unfortunately, he got a rude awaking when he tried to walk out of the kitchen when he was done and I called him back to put everything away and clean up his dishes.  He declared that "the not so fun part of cooking".  Tell me about it!  ;o)  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

"Burn" by Jo Dee Messina

Isn't B stinking adorable?!  He was only a month or two when this picture was taken.  He is in the crib my Papa (my dad's dad) made for his children, and my brother and I were blessed to sleep in it, too.  I call this "B's Brian Boitano Pose".  For those of you who may not know, Brian Boitano was on the US Figure Skating Team in the 1988 Olympics.  He was my favorite during that particular Olympics.  I don't know the name of the particular spin that Mr. Boitano was famous for, but it was a spin in which a skater jumped into the air, kept their feet together and their arms crossed against their body and spun around.  Except Mr. Boitano didn't do that; he kept one arm across his body and lifted the other arm over his head, just like B is doing in this picture, except Mr. Boitano kept his head straight.  B, on the other hand, was born with torticollis due to trauma sustained in utero, hence the head lolling to the left side.

Anywho, I want to talk about Jo Dee Messina's song, Burn, and how it pertains to B at this tender age.  I love this song.  While I was pregnant with B, I sang it constantly.  I was laid off from my job at the end of my 2nd trimester and the hubs and I felt there was no reason for me to look for another job.  So, I became a lady of leisure.  The hormones had gifted me with a wonderful singing voice and I sang all the time, my 2 favorites being The Star Spangled Banner and Burn.  I would rub my belly and sing Burn to my baby (we did not want to the sex until he or she came out) and mean every single word.  To me, it is the epitome of what a parent, who is capable of unconditional love, wants for their child.

A friend of mine who had her 1st child 3 years before me told me something that her doctor passed onto her, and I never forgot it.  Most newborns have a "fussy" period everyday and it usually lasts for 1 - 4 hours.  They are not hungry, not sleepy and they do not need a diaper change.  There is nothing wrong, but they will fuss.  I, personally, think it probably has to do with the adjustment from being inside the womb to outside in the real world.  I'd cry and want to crawl back up, too.  Well, B had his fussy time of the day, too.  It started about 2 hours before the hubs left the office to come home and he had an hour commute.  B would scream, be rigid and arc his back away from me when I held him, causing major pain to my back.  However, putting him down made it worse.  By walking the floor, I could reduce his screaming a couple of decibels and his coloring would lower from purple to bright red.

Once the hubs walked into the house, I ran to him and thrust his child into his arms because my ears and nerves could no longer take the noise and my ego could not take the fact that I could not provide what my baby needed.  "Thank God you're home," I'd exclaim, "I can't take it anymore!"  And as the hubs accepted his boy into the crook of his neck, B's screams silenced and he looked up at his father with an expression that seemed to say, "Thank God you're home! This woman has no idea what she is doing!"  The woman who taught our lemaze class had warned us that there is something about the warmth of daddies and the low pitch of their voices that soothes babies after being with mommies all day long and she was right!

One day, the hubs did not come home at his usual time.  I don't remember if he had a late meeting, was stuck in traffic due to a car accident or just went out for a drink with a friend to get a break from his stressed out wife!  LOL  All I remember is that I was home, alone, with a screaming, back-arching baby who was breaking my back when I walked the floors but who blew out my ear drums if I sat down.  I knew there was nothing I could do for B but I needed to do something for myself.  Oh, how I wished I was a drinking woman back then!  ;o)  I decided to sing because singing was my happy place and Burn by Jo Dee Messina just started coming out of my mouth.

By the time I'd finished singing the 3rd line, something amazing happened.  B became quiet, lifted his head up to look at me and had this incredulous look on his face.  Yes, despite the fact that his head flopped off to the left due to torticollis, my baby could lift his head at 1 month!  He looked at me like, "Hey!  I know that song!"  And he just looked at me in silence while I sang the rest of the song.  When I finished singing, I looked down at him with a big grin of gratitude and thought to myself, "I did it!  I found the magic formula!  I'm not a horrible mom, after all!"  He looked back at me with what I interpreted as wonder and admiration on his face.  "You're alright after all, mom," I felt he was saying. That silence, that connection of peace and contentment and mutual admiration lasted exactly 4.5 seconds, and then B arched his back and started screaming again.

But that's OK.  Every night B has fought sleep or woken up from a nightmare over the last 10 years, I've sung that song and it's calmed him, put him at ease and gotten him to sleep.  He knows a connection to that song that equals peace and safety and love.  And it's something that won't work when his daddy sings it to him; it has to be my voice (*smiling smugly*).  ;o)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Getting B To Tell Time Faster

Telling time.  Have you had problems with this in your home?  We sure have.  Every time I would spend time on the clock with B, it would take him a long time to tell me what time it was.  Then I figured out was going on.  He had the 1 - 12 hour placements down pat, but he was struggling with the minutes.  No matter if the minute hand was at 10 or 50, he would start at the top of the clock and count all the way around, "5, 10, 15, 20..." until he got to where the minute hand was.  So last month, I cut up a cereal, wrote increments of "5" on the pieces and taped them to the back of the clock in our family room.

What a difference this has made!  I don't need to know that it's 9:18; I just ask him to round to the nearest 5 and tell me what time it is (9:20 in this picture).  I ask him what time it is several times a day.  Instead of groaning, he looks right up, tell me the time happily, and then goes back to what he was doing.  :o)  Once we feel he's really got them down and knows what increment of 5 each of the 12 numbers on the clock represent, I'll start removing the cereal box pieces, one by one.  The last ones to go will be the 15, 30 and 45.

We tried this once before, last year.  I bought a clock kit at Michaels and B and his Nana sewed it together.  Then I added the extra 5 - 55 pieces and we hung it up in the family room on the wall over the desk.  Within a week, the cats had jumped off the desk to the clock and destroyed it!  *sigh*  They can't get at this clock.  The bottom of the clock is over my head and there is no furniture under it from which to jump.  Thankfully, they've shown the clock additions no interest whatsoever.

BTW, did you notice something wrong with our family room clock?  Look at the 4.  In Roman numerals, 4 is IV, not IIII.  We have had this clock for 6 years and neither the hubs nor I noticed this before I took the clock down to add the the cereal box letters!  LOL  We just knew that that place value was the 4th hour, so we never bothered to look closely enough.  Now we know why we got the clock so cheap!  ;o)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

More Holiday Refrigerator Decorations

Do you remember me decking our refrigerator out as a snowman last November?  We've really enjoyed having that cheery guy on our fridge!  Last month, we decided to let him celebrate Valentine's Day, so B cut out a heart, decorated it and I put it in our snowman's hands.  This afternoon, while B was doing his Math work, I decided to turn our snowman into a leprechaun for St. Patrick's Day.  I moved his mouth up a scoonch to make room for the beard, added eyebrows and a bow tie and made him a new hat.  And, of course, we couldn't leave out his pot o' gold!




As much as I miss having the fridge surface to pin things up, I'd rather have this jolly soul greet me every time I walk into into my kitchen.  I don't know what we'll do with him once Spring officially arrives...



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Food Expectations

It snowed today.  Not as much as the weather peeps predicted, but enough to close everything down, keep the hubs home and let B play in it.  It was a very nice, low maintenance day in which I didn't do much besides shovel and watch a bunch of TV with my 2 favorite people.

My bestie, R, called me tonight to chat and make sure we were on for some future plans.  Then she asked me, "So what did you cook today?  I'm sure the snow inspired you to make some wonderful comfort foods today.  So what did you make, a stew?"  I didn't make a stew today.  In fact I didn't make any appropriate or expected snowy-day foods.  I can totally see how she, and others, would think that I would.  But I'm tired.  The last month or so has been kinda roller coastery, so I gave myself the day off.  I'm not Superchef; I'm human.  And here's the honest truth about my total lack of Superchefness today:

My men got up before me and fed themselves breakfast, so when I came down I just heated up leftover tortellini for myself.  That's right, tortellini, for breakfast.  I ate a couple of pieces of toast this afternoon after shoveling snow and making B a hot chocolate.  I'm not even sure B ate lunch; I know I didn't feed him. :o/  For dinner, I opened a bag of Tyson Honey Battered Breast Tenders.  Have you ever tried them? They're so good!  We haven't had them in quite some time, but while at the grocery store yesterday I grabbed a bag for some reason.  They're fully cooked, so I just put them in the oven for 10 minutes to heat them up.  You know what I served with them?  Ketchup, honey mustard and BBQ sauce.  That's it.  No sides.  No starch, no vegetable.  No complaints.

I will say, though, that after reading Facebook posts all day from friend after friend listing all the goodies they baked today, I kinda felt guilty at the end of the day for not making something.  So I went to my "Sweet Recipes I Want To Try" board on Pinterest and made The Cookie Skillet Recipe From Heaven by With An Everlasting Love.  Chocolate chip cookie dough made in one of my cast iron pans, on the stove, then baked for 15 minutes and enjoyed warm.  It was easy; it was delicious.  I highly recommend it.  I rarely make cookies because they are too labor intensive - all the scooping, pans in and out of the oven, cooling (but not too long), taking cookies off the pan and scooping more on the pan.  Bleck!  One pan and done?  I'm there.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know I am not Martha Stewart.  I am not Katie Brown.  I have good days and bad days in the kitchen, as well as days in which I don't even feed my son (how else will he learn to fend for himself, right?)  "My name is Jess, and I only heated up a bag of Tysons for dinner tonight."