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 28, 2014

Avocado Chicken by The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife

I needed some inspiration to cook chicken, yet again, for dinner last night.  So I went to my Poultry Recipes board on my Pinterest account looking for something new, easy and consisting of ingredients I had on hand.  I don't know about you, but I pin things all the time and can't remember all of them.  Looking through my own boards is like Christmas morning!  hehehe

I found this gloriously simple recipe for Avocado Chicken from The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife.  Definitely something new, quite easy and I had just bought tomatoes and avocados from Costco the day before.   *Ding, ding, ding*  We literally had a winner, winner, chicken dinner!

You know me, I can't make any recipe exactly the way it is, so I finished off the oven time by turning the broiler on for a little color.  The hubs is quite picky, and not a fan of tomatoes, but he agreed with me that dinner was delicious!

Adding this one to the rotation during tomato season.  Thank you, Navy Wife

Thursday, March 27, 2014

B's History Fair Project for Homeschool Co-Op - Flash Backs to My School Days!

"US Presidents in a Bag (5 Things I've chosen to represent each of their lives."
Our homeschool co-op had a History Fair this morning and B's presentation included a poster board. I've always been critical of parents who do their child's work for them. You can totally tell by looking at the Art wall in a preschool classroom or the 1st grade poster board presentations, which ones were done solely by children and which ones were done by parents who love neatness and straight lines. ;o)

B's presentation was not started until early yesterday afternoon and was still not done when he and the hubs left at 4pm for a planned guys' outing. It was just me and that unfinished History project on the floor and I was sooo tempted to finish it myself! 

I felt like Jacques the shrimp in Finding Nemo when Gill tells him he cannot clean the tank. At first he was all, "I shall resist!" but the dirtier the tank got, he couldn't resist.  When Gill caught Jacques cleaning, he hung his head. "I am ashamed."

But isn't this always the case in life? Be careful who you judge because it always comes back to bite you! At least it does for me. If I've judged a stranger by the snippet of their life I see from the outside, sometime later I'll find myself in that exact situation, and "I am ashamed."

I did resist, though, and he finished his project before dinner.  Phew!

Yesterday was a total flashback to when I was in school.  I always left projects to the last minute and never learned my lesson because I always received good marks on them.  At least it's easier for kids these days to get information for projects at the last minute.  I had no internet.  Most projects were due on Mondays and I never remembered that the local library was closed on Sundays until after it closed on Saturdays.  A 1974 Funk & Wagnall's Encyclopedia was my only reference.

Anywho, the History Fair was great this morning.  Some children chose a literal time or event in History and some chose to explain the history of a person or something.  There were displays on US Presidents, WWII, Hasbro Toys, Sharks, Egypt, Native Americans, Robots, The Wright Brothers, Ballet, Knights, Winnie the Pooh, Harriet Tubman, US Missions to the Moon!

I learned so much from these awesome kids!  I walked around and not only read from their displays but also listened to them tell me about their subject matter.  Somethings I didn't know before this fair:

  • Harriet Tubman was not her given name; she was born Araminta Ross.
  • A.A. Milne only wrote 4 books with Winnie the Pooh in them and not all off the Winnie the Pooh characters we have today appeared in those four books.  Everything else "Pooh" we have today were expanded upon from his original four works.
  • Hasbro was founded by three Rhode Island brothers and their 1st toys were doctor and nurse kits and modeling clay.
  • Leonardo DaVinci designed the first robot in 1495.
  • I had no idea how many countries were involved in WWII.  The Allies consisted of 26 countries alone!  I only knew about the "major" ones.
  • There is a Goblin Shark out there with a long, flat snout.
B chose to do a "montage" (his word, not mine) of the 1st six Presidents in a Bag he's created.  I pulled the pix off my blog, ordered enlarged prints from Costco and B copied and pasted the descriptions from my blog posts.  He glued them onto a poster board from Dollar Tree and wrote a description at the top.

After everyone had presented and learned, we went outside.  The kids played and we mommas chatted.  A very successful co-op, indeed!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Brave Writer's The Arrow

Last month we added Brave Writer's The Arrow to our Language Arts studies and I've noticed the difference in our homeschool already.  We're having so much fun with "The Brave Writer lifestyle". Our own language as well as our awareness of language around us - written, spoken and performed  - is heightened.  Here are some examples of what we've done.

Two weeks ago, on Movie Wednesday, we watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off!  Beforehand, we discussed the meanings of plot, plot twists and climax.  I paused the movie as we went and we discussed who the good guy and bad guy should be according to the rules of right and wrong and who the good & bad guys were in B's eyes according to their personalities.  We discussed how important the script writing and each actor's portrayal of their rolls were in getting us to root for Ferris and relish Principal Rooney's mishaps.

I stopped it a number of times for B to tell me what the plot was, what he thought would happen next, his reaction to the "next" not being what he thought it was, etc.  When it was over, he excitedly told me when he thought climax began and when it ended.  We had this long, animated discussion about how people are not just black and white; we are all full of grays - good and evil, making right and wrong choices for the right and wrong reasons, etc..  It was so wonderful to see him expressing and discussing without just using the words, "Awesome" and "Amazing".

Yesterday, I asked him to write using descriptive language.  I wanted him to paint a picture with his words.  His writing in the past has been, "I played outside with my friends." I asked him to use words to describe the feel of the sun or the warmth of that Spring day.  Playing outside was just an example I gave him; he could write about whatever he wanted.

He chose to describe tasting a macadamia nut, which he did for the first time earlier that day.  I have to share his description with y'all.

"Today I tried a macadamia nut and it was awful!!(There was a frowny face with a tongue sticking out under the 2 exclamation points.)  It was so unbearable and repulsive I had to regurgitate it into the trash."

Now, he didn't try to describe what he thought it tasted like, an old gym sock, for example, but that's something to work on.  The fact that he wrote more than, "I hate macadamia nuts." or "Macadamia nuts are awful." and he wrote two sentences makes me very happy.  He took the assignment seriously and I can give more detailed direction in the future.

Most importantly, he's enjoying language and writing.  He's getting how important it is to his understanding and entertainment and we're (Julie Bogart and I) are stoking the desire in him to write like that for others.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shit Just Got Real

I'm having a really bad ear day.  I'm in pain.  One of the nurses from the hospital called this afternoon to do my pre-op interview.  Asked lots of yes or no questions - do I have these symptoms, do I have those conditions.  Needed details on previous surgeries, specialists, allergies, medications.  Gave me instructions I needed the day of surgery as well as the few more days leading up to it.  I still don't have a surgery time yet.

After I got off the phone, my breathing quickened.  My heart raced.  My eyes teared up.  Shit just got real to me.  There is a tiny crack in Miss Positive's veneer...

Summer Camp Registration

Yes, it's that time.  Can you believe it?  It doesn't feel like that time because, although the calendar says Spring has arrived, it hasn't yet sprung.  I don't mind the cold and the snow the last week of March; I love living in an area that experiences all four seasons.  I just don't want to be planning activities for June, July and August right now.

But I have to.  Camps in this area fill up very quickly; I've learned the hard way.  B's definitely in two camps - an acting week and fun, stay active week.  Two others I'm not sure about.  Both the baseball week and the movie-themed week ones are far from meeting their minimum required headcount so we wait and see.  He's never been enrolled in this many camps before.  He's thrilled!

Also, volunteer sign-up began for our church's Vacation Bible School this week.  If you volunteer, your child(ren) is(are) guaranteed a spot at VBS.  If you do not volunteer, you have to wait several weeks to register and we can only take so many children based on the number of volunteers.  So, I always volunteer to ensure B has a space.

However, when I went to sign myself up as a volunteer and B as a camper, I received quite a shock - he's too old to be a camper!  Surely this was a mistake!  Nope, he can't be a camper.  Well, they must have changed the rules this year because I remember telling B at the end of VBS last year he had one more year as a camper.  Nope.  I went through last year's emails and the cut off age was the same then.

I must have been in denial.  I'm glad I realized this late at night, sitting up alone, so B didn't have to see me cry.  I thought he'd be just as devastated as I was.  He was disappointed, but not devastated (dammit!).  I informed him that he's now old enough *gasp* to volunteer as a leader and, if he volunteered I would, too.  He said he'd think about it.  Two hours later he told me he wanted to lead so I signed us both up.

It isn't fair that he's growing up so fast.  It isn't fair that I didn't get the option to experience this all again.  *sniff, sniff*

Alright!  Pity party over!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Proud teaching day - B has my Math mind!

I love Math; it was my favorite subject in school.  But it can be a complicated subject.  The phrase, "It's all Greek to me!" is a perfect description of Math for some people.  In my opinion, the single most important factor in a student understanding Math is the teacher.  I was fortunate enough to be taught by some spectacular Math lovers who wanted all their students to understand  and be successful at Math.  The best ones I learned under didn't use the textbooks to teach us how to do problems; they taught us their own way on the board.  And if a student didn't understand that method, the teacher would pull out a different method and see if the student clicked with that one.  No one was left behind or out of the loop.  I was so inspired by these caring, excited teachers that I wanted to teach Math, too.  (Why I didn't is a whole other story….)

We love, love, love our Math curriculum, Life of Fred.  It's literature-based, meaning B learns about a subject through a story.  Math is brought to him through the adventures of a 5 year old boy, Fred, who is a Math professor at Kittens University in Kansas.  This series answers the most asked question of Math students, When am I going to use this in real life?!  Although some of Fred's story actually takes place in the classroom where he teaches Math, most takes place outside of it, in "real life".  Math is needed and used at the bank, the grocery store, telling time, booking a vacation, paying admission to a museum, planting a garden, decorating a room, everywhere!  Life of Fred shows B over and over the importance of Math in "real life" and entertains him with a story.  He is learning and having fun.  The goal of this Math teacher.

I'm one of those people who don't like to "show my work" with Math if I can do it in my head; and I do a lot of Math in my head.  Over the last 4 years, I've given B examples of how I break big problems down into smaller steps that he can do, instead of being overwhelmed by a complicated Math problem.  B can easily add, subtract, multiply and divide with 5s, 10s and 100s and I've tried to show him to break things down into their 5s, 10s and 100s and multiply or divide something by 2 to help solve a problem.

For example, if Sam made $450/week how much does he make a year?  I can't do $450 x 52 weeks in my head, but I can do $450 x 100 weeks = $45,000 and $45,000 / 2 = $22, 500 earned for 50 weeks.  Now I only need to add 2 weeks of $450 to $22,500 to get my answer of $23,400.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Prepping for Surgery - Bikini Wax

Less than two weeks until my surgery, and I'm in prep mode.  I am no longer taking my blood thinner, I cannot have any ibuprofen, I need to call the hospital today for the plan, I've started shaving my legs and I had a bikini wax yesterday.  Why, you ask?  (How many of you are thinking, I'm not asking!  TMI, Jess, TMI!  LOL)

I'll tell you why.  I will have to be catheterized during surgery.  The nurse or doctor or whoever does that will need clear, clean access to my lady business for…um...insertion.  (My brother is one of my biggest fans and if he had not stopped reading after the words "Why, you ask?" I bet he's stopped now!)  I have it on good authority that once I am under I would be unceremoniously shaved with an electrical instrument.  But not in any helpful or landscaping way - just a strip down the middle to give clear, clean access for the catheter.

Therefore, I chose to take control of how my lady business would be presented on that table and got a Brazilian wax this morning.  That's right, Brazilian.  I had originally put the word Brazilian in this post's title, but thought it was way too risqué so I changed it to bikini.  If you're still reading this post, whether because you have a high shock tolerance or out of morbid curiosity, I figured you could handle Brazilian.

I've had Brazilian waxes before, in my mid-30s.  They weren't too painful and made wearing a bathing suit all Summer easy-breezy.  I was pretty ignorant the 1st time I had one.  None of my friends had had one done, so I was going in blind.  I decided that it would make the esthetician's job easier to "clean things up a bit" before my appointment, shorten up a bit.  So I took the hair clippers to myself.

When I got up on the table, the esthetician asked me what I had done to myself.  Evidently, I was not helpful.  She said there does need to be length for the wax to grab.  Lesson learned and she was able to get the job done despite my "help".  I kept going back to her regularly, so I never got any significant length in between sessions.  Then after a couple years I stopped.  Since then, except for using a razor on the sides during swimsuit seasons, I've been au natural.

I don't know if it was my au natural length, the 30+ pounds I've put on since my last wax or if my 40-something skin has become brittle and uber-sensitive, but today's appointment was painful.  Not regret-I-had-it-done painful but certainly my-lady-business-does-not-need-to-be-subjected-to-that-again-thank-you-very-much painful.  The upkeep of my lady business will no longer be outsourced.

There were other differences today than from the last time I had a wax.  The 1st one was the state of my flexibility or, more to the point, the lack of it.  I was unable to contort myself easily into the necessary yoga positions in order for the esthetician to gain access.  At one point I was on my back, legs in the "butterfly" position and my knees were definitely facing more North than East and West.  God bless the esthetician, she valiantly pressed down on my knees to open me up more, but to no avail.  Phew!  If she was a muscular Swedish masseuse instead of a petite Asian esthetician, we would have heard a crack and I'd have limped out of there!

The 2nd difference was that I had to place my hands below my belly button and pull my skin up, taut.  She said, with her sweet smile, that it was easier and less painful if the skin was tight, but I think that was just code for, "Please move your belly out of the way."  LOL

And just when I thought it was all over and she was just making sure there was no wax left and applying a tonic, she pulls out the tweezers.  Some stubborn whiskers were evidently immune to multiple passes with the wax and she decide to pluck.  I could feel that she was plucking in an area that was not going to hinder the catheter, so I stopped her right there.  These soldiers were not willing to leave their post so it was time to retreat.

Before getting off the table, however, she handed me a mirror and ask that I review her handiwork.  Oooooo kaaaaaaay…  You know the ending of Pirates of the Caibbean: Dead Man's Chest when Captain Jack Sparrow is facing off with the Kraken and the Kraken opens its huge, red, circular mouth with rows of sharp teeth and screams at Jack?  That's what I saw in the mirror, only my "Kraken" was mad because I'd paid someone to remove all its teeth.

As I got dressed to leave, I didn't know if the soreness I felt was from the attack on my lady business or if my hip joints were protesting the out-of-character rotations they were put through.  But by the time I pulled out of the parking lot to head home, I was feeling back to normal.  I was not be surprised to wake up this morning with sore hip joints...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I just scored $64 worth of meat for $25!

I love getting a great deal and I have to share with y'all my trip to Harris Teeter just now.  The hubs wanted lottery tickets for tonight's $400M jackpot and asked me to run out for them.  He is already out but is unable to stop.  *sigh*  I was not happy about going to the ATM for cash and then hitting a grocery store at evening rush hour, but out I went.

As I'm walking in the door, I glance at the front page of the sales ad that ends today and see B2G3 free of shrimp.  Shrimp is B's favorite food in the world, so I headed back to the seafood department after getting the lottery tickets.  Turns out it was buy two 2 lb bags of shrimp and get three 2 lb bags free.  Ten pounds of shrimp is a bit much ;o) so I passed.

But while I was in the back of the store, I perused the meat section.  I only shop at the Teeter if I need one or two things (and I don't want to go farther to Wegmans) or I'm getting Teeter's Friday night fried chicken special.  But if I need to be in the back of the store, I check the meat department for markdowns.  I hit the mother load today!

  1. Ready to Cook chicken breast stuffed with Bleu cheese and wrapped in bacon, 9oz.  Regularly $4.99, got it for $1.99.
  2. Ready to Cook Chicken Cordon Bleu, 10oz.  Regularly $4.99, got it for $1.99.  Both this one and the one above have a sell by date of 3/19/14, so dinner for tomorrow is done!
  3. Three Ribeye steaks, totaling 2.63 lbs.  Regularly $36.79, got them for $12.86.  
  4. Trimmed and tied pork loin roast, 2.32 lbs.  Regularly $9.95, got it for $4.71.  That works out to $2.03/lb and I know I can buy a whole pork loin on sale for $1.99/lb.  But I'd have to wait for a sale, unwrap it, break it down into small roasts and chops and rewrap for freezing.  This roast is already trimmed and tied and a perfect size to feed my family for a week or to serve the next time we have guests.
  5. Fresh Johnsonville Irish O'Garlic sausage.  Now, this one wasn't as big of a savings as the other items.  The 1 lb 3 oz package is regularly $5.49 and had a store coupon of  $1.50 on it since St. Patrick's Day is over.  This is for the hubs who will literally do a jig when he comes home and sees it.  Since I got such good deals on the other meats, and I want to see his jig, I "splurged" on this for him.
With tax the original price of all this would have been $63.77 but I got it all for $25.18.  It was meant to be and my freezer and I are very happy (we were down to just chicken breasts and ground beef before I went to the store).

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Enough with the side boob already!

I've never been one to begrudge a woman who looked good in a sexy outfit before.  And I am just talking about sexy, not slutty nor inappropriate.  I've always thought, "If I had it, I'd probably flaunt it, too," and "As long as you have the body for it, why not?"  Remember that green Versace dress Jennifer Lopez wore to the 2000 Grammys?  I hollered at the TV, "Go on witcha bad self, J. Lo!"  I've even worn little sumpin', sumpin' myself in the past.  

However, watching the 2014 Oscars and a performance by Barbra Streisand this week, I have something to say to women: "ENOUGH with the side boob already!"  I just don't want to see it.  I have no problem with exposed cleavage.  When you are well endowed, any neckline that is not turtle- or crew-neck will expose some skin between "the girls".  But I just don't care to see the curved line that goes under a boob.  I don't want to see another woman's nekked breast resting on her ribcage.  I'll show you the difference…

This is a lovely picture of Lupita Nyong'o.  Although the neckline of her dress plunges and exposes cleavage almost down to her waist, I can't see her boobs.  I'm fine with this!

However, I am not OK with the following dresses of Barbra Streisand, and whoever this woman in the black dress was at the 2014 Oscars, which expose the inner sides of their breasts.

And here's the outer side of Amanda Seyfried's breast.

I'm not proud that I'm getting old and prudish.  Obviously these women are confident and comfortable exposing their side boobs and that's a good thing!  However, I will be glad when the fashion tide turns and side boob being out will no longer be "in".

President in a Bag - John Quincy Adams

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.

B enjoyed learning about John Quincy Adams, the son of his favorite president, John Adams.  John Quincy Adams was the 1st son of a president to become president.  Like his father, he did what he thought was right, not what was popular.  Therefore, he was only a one term president, like his father.

Here are the five items B chose to represent our sixth President in a Bag, John Quincy Adams:

#1: A Passport.  John Quincy Adams was a diplomat, ministering to The Netherlands, Prussia, Russia and Great Britain.

#2 The Union Jack.  Adams' wife, Louisa, is the only American first lady in history who was not born in the United States.  She was British and John met her in London while he was diplomat.  (B is upset with me because he had to use this picture of the Union Jack.  It's a page of his medal tracking sheet  from this Winter Olympics Pack 2014 from Enchanted Homeschooling Mom.  Our printer ink is running low so I did not want to print off another, larger copy of the flag.  I'm such a terrible mom to make him reuse something, right? hehe)

#3 A Box of Tea.  When President Jefferson called for a shipping embargo in 1807, Senator Adams supported him.  Adams' constituents in Massachusetts were very upset with him for that support since most of their livelihoods depended on shipping.  B associates tea with the Boston Tea Party, which took place in a Massachusetts harbor, so the tea reminds B of this unpopular 1807 embargo.  Adams quit the Senate in 1808.

#4 A Pen.  As President Monroe's Secretary of State, Adams was the main writer of The Monroe Doctrine.

#5 A Camera.  The 1st photographic image taken with a camera occurred during John Quincy Adams' presidency.  Adams was the 1st US president to have his picture taken.  Before then, there were presidential portraits and each artist's view was subjective.

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

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Remember - You. Are. Bulletproof.

If you ever feel down on yourself, doubt yourself, think you are totally messing up as a parent or educator, letting someone else's negative comment or opinion of you get you down, put on Titanium.  Turn up the volume and FEEL it; BELIEVE it.

Dance around, sing along at the top of your lungs or just let the song envelope and empower you.  Your inner voice, your doubts and fears or the voices of others can take their aim, but…

You. Are. BULLETPROOF.  Own it, sister!

A&E Networks' Idea Book for Educators is now digital!

If you've read any of my posts on B's favorite History assignments, Presidents in a Bag, you'll remember that I got the fabulous idea from The Idea Book for Educators, created by A&E networks - History Channel, A&E, H2, History en Espanol and Lifetime programming.  It was a free magazine for educators with lessons that complemented shows on the A&E networks.  It also contains Creative Ideas from Teachers, where teachers can win money for sharing ideas they've come up with to engage their students in learning.  It was one of those teachers who shared the President in a Bag.

I just received an email stating the magazine will no longer be in print; it's now digital!  Here is the link for The Idea Book for Educators if y'all are interested in checking it out or adding it to your lessons.